I’m a big fan of Sex and the City. I loved the groundbreaking, now legendary HBO series and saw the first film twice in a theater (something I don’t make a habit of doing very often). Given the enormous success of Carrie and Company’s first cinematic outing ($415 million worldwide box office on a $65 million budget), a sequel was inevitable. And while the initial teaser clip for Sex and the City 2 left me a little underwhelmed, the more extensive and polished trailer renewed my enthusiasm to see the film, which I did at a matinee on Friday. Alas, my hopes for a little afternoon delight ultimately resulted with me feeling more screwed over than satisfied by the experience.
SaTC2 is an embarrassment of riches, and not in a complimentary way. Carrie and Big have downsized from their at least $10 million palatial apartment from the first film to a more modest but equally dripping-in-money one, complete with a sofa that the couple had to wait a year and a half for before its delivery. Sure, Miranda’s still “slumming” it in Brooklyn, and “domestic” goddess Charlotte also remains in her fabulous Manhattan home but it’s pretty evident that none of the characters has been touched by economic crisis. I don’t recall the audience getting a glimpse of where Samantha’s living now that she’s moved back from L.A. but you know that wherever it is, it’s fabulous.
Continuing with the money-is-no-object theme, the audience is treated to the sort of gay wedding that would make most homosexuals cringe; well, at least this one. There’s a full male wedding chorus, swans, and the piece de resistance, Liza Minnelli conducting the ceremony AND performing “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”. Talk about a Nightmare on Fag Street.
The film (and money) eventually shifts from NYC to Abu Dhabi, where Samantha has been invited by a sheik to visit in order to create a PR campaign for the hotel he owns. Naturally, her one condition for doing so is that her three best girl friends must accompany her on this all expenses paid “business” trip; something the sheik agrees to…and eventually regrets, right along with the audience.
Bringing attention (if not solutions) to some serious issues are attempted by the film, but it feels as forced as the jokes. Trying to introduce girl power in the girl powerless Middle East is a big one, but when that message is delivered in the form of the fearless foursome singing an excruciating version of Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” at a karaoke bar, it’s one that can’t really be taken seriously; even worse it’s not even entertaining.
One other scene that backfires completely is when Charlotte and Miranda discuss the sometimes seemingly impossible-to-overcome challenges of motherhood. The fact that this conversation takes place at the private bar in their luxurious hotel suite is offensive enough, but the fact that the two women acknowledge the existence and severity of their hardships DESPITE having full-time help is a rich bitch slap in the face to mothers everywhere who have to juggle careers and domestic responsibilities without the assistance of nannies; more so for single mothers who are the sole breadwinners of their family. Is the audience supposed to feel sympathy towards either of these women, especially Charlotte, who wouldn’t last an hour without having her nanny there to save the day, every day?
Okay enough ranting about the film’s shortcomings. What SaTC2 does have going for it is the following: fabulous fashion (Sarah Jessica Parker reportedly had 62 wardrobe changes, 48 of which made it into the film) and some hot eye candy to distract straight women and gay men away from the film’s many flaws. Most notable new studs are Noah Mills as Anthony Marantino’s brother and best man, Nicky, and silver-haired Max Ryan, who portrays Danish businessman Rikard Spirit; both eventually appear nude in their roles as two of Samantha’s conquests, and provide the only reason to purchase the dvd, so you can fast forward, play, pause, rewind and repeat to your lustful heart’s content.
In the case of a film like Sex and the City 2, sometimes bad sex isn’t better than no sex at all.