Sex and the City 2: A Fabulous, Yet Culturally Irreverent, Love Letter to Fans

27 05 2010

After two years, the Fab Four are back for Sex and the City 2. The massive box office success of the first movie (made even more impressive because of its R-rated chick flick status) is sure to be repeated, thanks to the overwhelming fan base: women who grew up with the show, younger women who grew up with the DVDs, gay men, and straight men looking to get laid. The money is sure to roll in, the fashion is sure to be over the top, and the critics are sure to be ruthless. Here’s the breakdown:

Two years have passed and Carrie and Big are starting to fall into the rut of routine married life. Charlotte is overwhelmed with motherhood, Miranda is sick of her job and Samantha is fighting against time and age. So what’s a girl to do? How about an all-expense-paid trip to the exotic Abu Dhabi? The girls take a break from husbands, kids and boyfriends, enjoying karaoke, sand dunes and chance encounters, all while coming to terms with their lives back in the City.

The Monkey: Fans of the show and the first movie will love this movie. It has The Girls, The Fashion and The Cocktails. ‘Nuf said. But, it also has some other perks as well.

While the first movie was a bit more dramatic, Sex and the City 2 is much lighter, much funnier. The humor is over the top, recalling some of the most outrageous moments from the series.

Visually, the movie is eye candy – so much so, that if eyes had teeth, they’d be rotted. Colorful markets, sweeping dunes, decadent resorts, and yes, the crazy fashion, sure to make most people cringe (but really, would you expect anything less?).

Sarah Jessica Parker has said, “We wanted to transport our audience…We wanted to give them, in this economic climate, a vacation.” If this was the mission statement for the movie, it succeeded splendidly.

The Weasel: If you’re not already a fan of the show or the first movie, this movie is subpar. The title is Sex and the City, yet two-thirds of the movie takes place in Abu Dhabi, where sex is very taboo. A more apt title would have been, Foreplay in the Middle East.

The movie started off on the right note, focusing on marriage and what happens after a few years of it. It’s new ground for Carrie and audiences alike. But instead of sticking around and focusing on the “terrible-twos” of marriage, the Gals jet-set across the globe for no reason at all, other than to “transport audiences,” as Sarah Jessica Parker stated. There was absolutely no reason for this change of scenery, plot-wise, and in fact, halts the plot dead. Even the appearance of ex-fiancé Aidan was nothing more than a play to existing fans. (It might have been more effective if the run-in had happened in New York, if the plot had stayed more consistent with the first half-hour of the movie, but, alas, we’ll never know.)

It was also very hard to buy into the “plights” of the Fab Four – Carrie lives in a beautiful New York apartment with the man of her dreams, yet she complains about ordering in and watching TV on a humongous flat screen. Miranda whines about her high-paying lawyer job, Samantha bemoans menopause and Charlotte can’t handle two kids even with the help of a live-in nanny. Wow, these girls got it rough. The movie needed the outlandish trip to Abu Dhabi just to distract audiences from the lack of plot, to keep them from screaming at the screen, “Suck it up, beotches!” I couldn’t feel sorry for any of them. But the filmmakers must have predicted this, because they quickly splashed the screen with Louis Vuitton and rugby players with bulging Speedos. Crisis (and the need for script revisions) averted.

Unfortunately, the film’s biggest miss is the mishandled cultural themes. It started out on the right foot – women all around the world have customs and fashions they hold dear. But then it unraveled, reverting to Western ethnocentrism. Why can’t these Middle Eastern women be as free as we are? Why can’t they show as much skin as we do? Why can’t they go around groping men in public like we do? This line of thinking is disrespectful and frustrating, especially when there was so much potential to convey a positive message for women who don’t fit Western stereotypes. The insult went even further, when a group of Muslim women reveal their love of Western diets and fashion labels. Whew! Oh good, they really ARE just White on the inside – now I don’t have to bridge cultural gaps, and can be content in the fact that they have adopted my culture – thank god! Hmmm…wrong message to send, especially in today’s society. It would have been much more effective for there to have been a Jennifer Hudson-type character in this film, a local woman who could have revealed to the girls that just because they’re different, they can still be fabulous.

Will fans love it? Absoultely. Did the movie miss a wonderful opportunity to make a cultural statement about female empowerment, about the need to break free of ethnocentrism? You bet. The movie succeeded in transporting audiences, but the vacation lacked any reality that could have made a lasting impression. As Stanford says in the beginning of the film, “Remember that summer I got hooked on coke? Yeah, it’s kinda like that.”

2.5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Could the movie have used a bit more substance? Or were you content with the “vacation”? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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One response

2 06 2010
Cal

I agree with everything said. I think it was just a movie for the diehard fans. I still loved it!!
“Lawrence of my labia!”
HAHA

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