SEX AND THE CITY 2, written and directed by Michael Patrick King, 147 minutes, rated R.
Over the past several weeks, while gearing up for the new “Sex and the City” movie, “Memaws on Mid-Life Support,” every episode of the HBO television series was viewed before this review, as was the disappointing first film that came in its wake.
That bum movie aside, revisiting the series again was a treat. I’d do it again in a minute. But seeing “Sex and the City 2” again? You’d have to grab me by the Barneys and push me hard through the Dior.
Now it’s clear. What worked beautifully on television in a show that remains a personal favorite has yet to translate to the big screen. There are a few reasons for that, beginning with its ridiculously bloated running time and the fact that the four main characters — Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) — are sandbagged by a pointless, unfunny script.
Oh, some semblance of a script is here — we do, after all, need a reason to move from one closet to the next — but rarely has a potential summer blockbuster been as empty as the one presented here.
Where is the fire in this movie? Where is the struggle, the meaningful successes and disappointments, the raucous fun and folly we’ve come to expect? That was the whole point of the series — having a good laugh while watching these four women work hard to find the right man (Samantha aside), while also working overtime to rise to the top of their professions (Charlotte aside).
None of that is here because all of the women have achieved everything they want — massive financial and personal success in a time when many in our country have neither. With their dreams realized, what’s left for them to achieve on-screen? According to director and screenwriter Michael Patrick King, what’s left is to spend time apart from their significant others so they can reconnect, find themselves again and regain some of that old sparkle.
To do so, they’ll need to travel away. Miles away. As in Abu Dhabi away. So, not only are we out of New York City, which long has been considered the franchise’s critical fifth character, but we’re in a city that
shrouds women in burqas and frowns upon public displays of anything that has to do with sex. It’s a set-up that might have created real tension, but the crass way it’s handled here, it instead comes off as an insult to the Muslim community.
After opening with an over-the-top gay wedding between Anthony (Mario Cantone) and Stanford (Willie Garson), who are joined at the hip by none other than Liza Minnelli (in this case — don’t ask, don’t tell), we get down to the movie’s slim pickings: Samantha’s ex-boyfriend, Smith (Jason Lewis), manages to get the girls an all-paid luxury vacation to Abu Dhabi. There, they essentially infuriate everyone around them while creating a maelstrom of melodramas that generally are fueled by a cluster of couture. The end.
Well, actually not. In between, they must face the fact that marriage can be difficult (really?), aging can be difficult (no kidding?), and raising children can be difficult (you don’t say?). Knock back a few cosmos and face the music, ladies, because guess what? Your core audience already knows this.
They also know that if you cheat on your husband, you’re probably not going to get a black diamond as a pat on the back for screwing around — but that’s what happens here. And that’s how out of touch this whole production has become.
All of this is supposed to be fantasy — I get it. Time away with the girls. Fun, fun. Wink, wink. Drink, drink. Ha, ha. But these women are now in their 40s and 50s, which means that the unparalleled stupidity of their behavior is a lot like wearing nighttime fashion in a daytime world — it’s just embarrassing. Worse, the movie itself isn’t funny or insightful — it just sort of exists in the vacuum of its own vapidity.
Still, given the healthy opening it enjoyed, nobody should be surprised if a third film follows. But please, if they do crank out another movie, can they just bring back the edge and do a satirical twist on “Snatch,” “Octopussy” or “Fun with Dick and Jane”?
If they do, at the very least, we might be laughing again.
WeekinRewind.com is the site for Bangor Daily News film critic Christopher Smith’s blog, DVD giveaways and movie reviews. Smith’s reviews appear Fridays and weekends in Lifestyle, as well as on bangordailynews.com. He may be reached at Christopher@weekinrewind.com.
Renting a DVD? BDN film critic Christopher Smith can help. Below are his grades of recent releases. Those in bold print are new to stores this week.
Alice in Wonderland — C-
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel — C
Avatar — A-
The Blind Side — B+
Body of Lies — C
The Box — B-
Broken Embraces — B+
Couple’s Retreat — D+
Crazy Heart — B+
Daybreakers — B-
Dear John — D
Did You Hear About the Morgans? — D
Edge of Darkness — C
An Education — B
Elegy — A-
Everybody’s Fine — D+
Extract — C+
Fantastic Mr. Fox — A-
The Fourth Kind — D
Funny People — C+
I Love You, Man — B+
Inglourious Basterds — A-
It’s Complicated — B
Invictus — B+
Julie & Julia — B+
Law Abiding Citizen — D+
The Lovely Bones — B
Michael Jackson’s This is It — A
Old Dogs — F
Precious — A-
The Proposal — C+
Role Models — B+
A Serious Man — B+
Sherlock Holmes — B+
Shutter Island — B
Surrogates — B-
Tooth Fairy — C-
Up — B+
Up in the Air — A
Valentine’s Day — C-
When in Rome — D
Where the Wild Things Are — B+
The Wolfman — D+