Sex and the City 2 (2010) Dir. Michael Patrick King

Love it or hate it, see it on a big screen for the full effect.

Carrie Bradshaw returns to the big screen for the second time, bringing a tide of glamour, self-entitlement, a huge wardrobe and slosh of pink drinks and dumbass histrionics with her. She’s joined as always by her three best friends, the red-headed Lawyer, the brunette Mom, and blonde Sex-Bomb. You probably already know all about Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha. Each of them is reaching a difficult point in their lives where tough decisions have to be made. Well, mostly. Miranda has a new boss who wants her to shut the hell up, Charlotte finds it tough to be a mother. Samantha is fighting the menopause with every pill and cream she can lay her mitts on. As for Carrie, she’s learning that domestic bliss doesn’t entirely match with her self-obsessive nature, or her desire for ‘sparkle’ with her husband after two years of marriage, “This isn’t the relationship I signed up for!” she complains at one point. Her new book also gets a crappy review in the New Yorker. Somewhere a freakishly talented mouse is playing a very small violin…

I can see why people hated it. It’s a little overlong, there’s a lot of talking and it’s shallow – unapologetically. This doesn’t mean that they were right to hate all over it. I can just see completely why. This is a gleefully silly film, attempting to tackle ‘issues’ about the Middle East, of all things, in the fluffiest of ways, to the extent that even South Park seems PC. It’s flashy, it’s gleefully wrapped up in its fantasy world and you know what? I think it works. As long as you add several pinches of salt, naturally. It should come with a huge disclaimer that, at no point should men ever believe all women think this way, although on the surface it may appear so. It’s certainly no worse a set of role models for ‘girls’ than, say, gangster movies are for men. It’s about something, in its own way, just without any car chases and diappointingly few explosions. In some ways its treatment of the Middle East really is little different from the way Indiana Jones casually swings through the market place in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s also pleasantly humanist, and plays gently against expectations when Carrie leaves her passport in the souk, only to get it back with no trouble whatsoever from the nice shopkeeper. And she leaves money for the nice butler to go and see his wife, too. It does seem to hold back most of its judgement for the hypocrites among the rich Arabs themselves, and I think they can probably survive it.

Face it. You know what you’ve signed up for when Liza Minelli bursts on stage at the most unexpected gay wedding in the world. It’s hard not to love her performing Beyonce’s ‘Put a ring on it’ song and my god, she can move! Following the diva-laden intro, there are some tense little arguments between Carrie and her husband sparked by his desire to put a big flatscreen TV in the bedroom. I can see why – there’s nothing less sexy than having the Deadliest Catch playing on the TV all the time, which they do here, a lot. As a sign of progress, Carrie at least talks to Big in this film, taking the time to ask him why he’s annoyed, why he thought an idea of his was good, and how they both compromise one way or another. Although this is realistic, she also seems whiny, but my sympathies were with Big, who actually seems to work for a living. I’m still not entirely sure what Carrie does all day, except take ten minutes to scrawl an article every few weeks – even if it is for Vogue! Also, Kristen Davis has a heartbreaking moment when her cupcake-filled family life gets too much for her (although not wearing priceless white Valentino to bake in would make her life easier). Miranda also gets to make some positive changes by quitting her job and getting another with little trouble. If only it were that easy! I can appreciate the wish-fulfilment at play here. What else are movies for?

 It’s a shame, though, that their idea of championing women is so intensely connected to looking a certain way especially past a certain age. For all the show and the film’s talk about how tough it is to be a mother, how hard marriage is, how awful the repression of women in Abu Dhabi behind Burkhas actually is, it all comes down to whether blokes think you’re hot or not. They have to constantly prove this, especially Samantha. The effort they must take is sort of criticsed, but at no point is it suggested that there’s any other choice. That is the message here, and it’s every bit as odd as the hypocrisies of Abu Dhabi. (Incidentally, did someone pass a law that Omid Djalli MUST be the friendly, pushy Middle East guy every time that role is required? I like him, but even so, every single time?) this mars it a little. There are some moments when the characters come across as slightly subnormal, too, when it come to commen sense. Carrie seriously overreacts to both her bad review and how she handles an accidental kiss with old flame, Aidan. Things go a bit hysterical, and she becomes fully wrapped up in her own little drama. Then again, it’s really the unreality that I turned up for. Perhaps this is best seen on a sunny Saturday, when the previous week can be blissfully left behind and you completely forget about the week to come for a few hours.

While this is still a fun, shiny piece of film, I think it will work its finest magic on the big screen, where the beautiful scenery, bigger-than life fashion, and the characters’ personal battles can be propely blown out of all proportion. One of the biggest criticisms levelled at SATC2 was that it wasn’t a more New York based movie, considering that the city was the show’s biggest selling point. The sequel even opens on that Alicia Keys ‘Empire State of Mind’ song that’s been everywhere this year with lots of loving shots of New York, but we’re hardly there at all. I’m sure the show really does love New York, but like its characters, and perhaps just like us, it’s good to have a rest from it all once in a while, and just enjoy the glitter until reality becomes a little more appealing.

This is a great escape,  much more fun than the first movie and held together by a stronger story.  I’m very glad I saw it, but won’t be rushing out to get the DVDBlu-Ray at all.

Finally, please give the blokes a break and don’t drag them in if they, honestly, can’t stand the show or Sarah Jessica Parker. They’ll only make mean jokes about her to their mates!


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