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Sex & The City 2

Sex & The City 2

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

FOLLOWING the gargantuan success of the first Sex & The City movie two years ago, the girls are back for an inevitably inflated sequel that’s all about style and, sadly, not enough substance.

Having explored some pretty big issues in the first movie (marriage, commitment, infidelity, conception), writer-director Michael Patrick King has decided to place the emphasis more on fun this time… and while there are some sparkling moments, the overall result leaves you feeling like you may have had one glass of champagne too many.

The plot is as thin as Carrie Bradshaw’s waistline and as loose fitting as Samantha’s panties. Yet it’s stretched out across an interminable two and a half hours in which nothing much really happens.

To begin with, there’s a wedding to attend: that of the girls’ gay friends Anthony Marantino (Mario Cantone) and Stanford Blatch (Willie Garson). It’s a brash opening… outrageous, camp, gleefully OTT (complete with a cameo from Liza Minnelli). But it also goes on a little too long. You may forget you’re watching a film, and feel like one of the guests at the back of the room!

Thereafter, there’s a little plot development as Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) contemplates the second year of her marriage to Mr Big (Chris Noth) and how boring a couple they have become.

Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is worried that her husband may about to be unfaithful with their new nanny (Alice Eve), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) quits her job in protest over a misogynist boss, and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is obsessed with enabling her body (and hormones) to beat the ravages of time.

When the story conspires, via Samantha, to take the girls on an all-expenses paid trip to Abu Dhabi, the stage is set for more girl bonding, a little Arab bashing and the possibility of an illicit romance with one of Carrie’s old flames: John Corbett’s returning Aidan Shaw.

Alas, there’s a two hour wait to get to this latter point… or any point of real drama, as there’s such an emphasis on having fun.

The build up to that moment is divided between girl empowerment, fashion do’s and don’ts and consumer porn designed to provoke shock and awe at just how rich the Arab states are.

But it quickly becomes wearying and the decision to cart the girls off to the Middle East backfires badly – much as it does whenever any film or TV show transplants its characters from the comforts of home to a new culture and time zone.

Much has been made of the offensive nature of some of the Abu Dhabi material, and especially scenes involving the wearing of hijabs and abayas, but that’s to credit the movie with too much intelligence.

Rather, the cross-cultural ‘jokes’ aren’t funny enough to be offensive and are just plain cringe-worthy at times, especially when the 50-year-old Samantha is seen running through a marketplace waving condoms in the faces of outraged Arab men.

Sex And The City 2 is on much surer footing when dealing with the little things – or, dare I say, the real things.

The opening moments in New York, during the opening wedding and while building the plot-points, balance the humour and character development as well as can be expected for a sequel and include decent support (or lack thereof) from Alice Eve’s breasts and from Chris Noth’s Mr Big.

But any early inclination the movie may have to explore the real issues affecting the girls at this point in their lives are disbanded the moment they travel. Thereafter, very few sequences resonate.

A drunken exchange between Miranda and Charlotte about the stresses and strains of motherhood is beautifully played and one of only a handful of scenes that ring true.

But even Carrie’s belated soul-searching following her moment of indiscretion with Aidan feels like a contrived plot device… and audiences may struggle to sympathise with her dilemma.

A last ditch attempt to extol the virtues of domesticity and wedded bliss feels like a token attempt to infuse proceedings with a little heart and soul. Sadly, given what’s come before, it feels empty.

Sex And The City 2 is therefore a glossy, high-pitched ode to artificiality that feels more like a prolonged advertisement for jewellery stores and fashion houses. It’s a superficial ‘crowd-pleaser’ that looks infinitely more fun to have made than it is to endure, and which feels utterly pointless.

Let’s hope that a third movie – should there be one – reverts back to some of the core values that made the show and (to a lesser extent) the first movie easier and actually more fun to connect with.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 146mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: November 29, 2010