Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sex in the City 2: Slipping In to Decade Old Shmata

For the first, time, Cincritic divides its recommendation - for non-fans of the series:

Fans of the series:

In a way, what makes Sex in the City 2 stand out over the deadly dull original movie is exactly why I've split the recommendation - the movie, and the actors, now both completely know the audience for their creation (metrosexual women of a certain age and their gay cohorts - probably those that have few straight female friends of their own), and they pull no punches going after it.

This time, the movie makes absolutely no effort to be good, or even create a script to hang its hat on (yes, Carrie runs into her old flame, Aiden, but like that unintended kiss, it's meaningless). Instead, its just a series of estrogine-soaked cat-nip: fabulous gay weddings, Liza Minelli in drag as herself, girls in tizzies trying on outrageous clothes, panning crotch-shots of bikini clad rugby players, world travel, fabu hotels, shopping sprees, girls creating tension with fake couples crises, and excuses to show naked boy-butts grinding sex with the now way-to-old characters. If that sounds delightful to you, you might want to check it out. If it sounds painful - stay away, far far away.

There's absolutely nothing else to this movie other than distilling down the essential elements of the original HBO hit series from the 1990's and giving all of us aging girls another romp through the expensive indulgences. For fans of the series, this is, in fact, better than the first movie - which had to spend way too much time winding up old flames, resolving unresolved plot-lines, and creating an excuse for spending two full hours with these tiring chatterboxes. This time, no excuses: just catnip. Prrrrr.

In Sex and the City 2, time has not marched on: the characters are the same self-seeking hollow city-girls that we new and loved back when the internet was a cute novelty and online dating meant sending someone an email. The only difference: now they're all married. But you would hardly think so, given the way they all carry on. In order to get them all out of the house, the film concocts a few excuses: first, Carrie Bradshaw's two gay friends get married in Connecticut. Next, she and her newfound husband John ("Mr. Big" - Chris Noth - of the series) argue about staying in too much, so she heads out on the town to simulate a movie opening (media glamor is always just another kind of sex for this city). Finally, Samantha comes up for an excuse for the four girls to travel on a private jet to spend a weak lounging in United Arab Emirates. However, Sarah Jessica Parker (as Carrie Bradshaw) should be well on her way to wearing "bubbie" on her gold necklace, not just figuring out how to share a bedroom with a man, and Kim Cattrall as Samantha has to wear way too much makeup to keep that face from sagging, and her humping buff thirty-year-olds is starting to seem creepily well beyond Cougar and into borderline necrophilia. Listen, honey, we're all breaking down (sometimes I can't walk down the stairs anymore...I should be one to complain) but most of us aren't still acting like star-struck twenty-year-olds in a New York that's way-too-rich and just about to spit up gold-stardust into the streets.

Since that mid-nineteens indulgence and extravagance would seem way out-of-place if set in the Great Recession New York of today, the producers of SITC2 wisely move the action to Abu Dhabi - the last place in the world where extravagant indulgence can seem "in" and harmless. Never mind that Abu Dhabi has nothing to do with the plot, that Arab states repress women, or that Samantha's trip to meet with a sheik there turns out to be a fashion red herring designed for no other reason that to give the girls a weekend overseas. Where else --except possibly at a gay wedding -- could four women spending insane amounts of money on clothes, sex, and shoes possibly make sense these days? Even if they have to do it all underneath a burka.

The actors clearly feel the same way. All four treat the roles with an ironic detachment, like these characters are some kind of old Nineties thing they've found in the back of the closet and have decided to slip on, for old times sake. For those of us who enjoyed the characters the first time around as a kind of secret, non-intellectual indulgence, that insouciance gives the movie some of its real pleasure: no one takes this stuff seriously, least of all the people behind it. So just shut up and enjoy the soft-core porn. However, given how ratty its starting to seam and how much none of us fit into it anymore, I kind of fear this may be the last time we try this dress on.

Yes, that extravagant gay wedding scene is insultingly over-the-top to gays, just as is the idiotic Abu Dhabi fling to fifty-year-old women and Arabs, even if the clothes and the naked butts are fabu in both.

No, PC this movie is not - and a two-and-a-half hours, you may think you've literally entered a time warp - but if you're looking for a...well...certain kind of escapism this summer, you'd be hard-pressed to find as many Liza Minellis in one place or as many R-rated dicks standing at attention than you'll find in this movie.

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