Men want to be James Bond; women want to be Carrie Bradshaw. Once you understand this, the appeal of Sex and the City is obvious. This New York babe has it all – professional success, a rich, good-looking husband, a wardrobe to die for and enough shoes to shod a small village. And yet, having everything still isn’t enough for her as Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) finds herself constantly wrestling with one insecurity after another, the victim of a cruel society that causes her to doubt herself as a woman. What’s a girl to do?
The answer, according to Sex and the City 2 is to take a vacation to Abu Dhabi with your three best gal pals and ruminate over the injustice of having an attractive nanny that your husband may lust after or having to stay in five nights a week in your luxury apartment with your husband. In fairy tale fashion, Samantha (Kim Cattrall) scores an all-expense paid trip for her and her friends to the Middle East to visit a five-star hotel its owner wants her to promote. Convinced her marriage to Mr. Big (Chris Noth) has lost its “sparkle,” Carrie jumps at the chance, while Charlotte and Miranda (Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon) tag along needing a break from their families.
This is all meant as a lark, and for most of the film’s bloated running time, the girls’ adventures are engaging if not overly original. While Samantha tries in vain to hold off menopause, Carrie finds herself tempted by her ex-love Aiden (John Corbett) while Charlotte worries her husband is going to stray. Poor Miranda is there to keep everyone moving from one stunning locale to the next and if Nixon is given the thinnest role of the quartet, the consolation is that she runs the least risk of being blamed for the film’s missteps.
Obviously, this movie is not being pitched to me. While I was reasonably entertained for the first two hours, some nagging thoughts prevented me from fully embracing Carrie’s posse and their trials. It’s hard to sympathize with characters who live in a world of privilege yet find the time to complain about their egocentric problems. Charlotte has longed to be a mother throughout the series and now that she feels overwhelmed in raising her two adopted daughters, she flees. When she says, “I don’t know how women without a nanny do it,” the urge to throttle her is overwhelming.
Equally troubling is the mixed message these films tout about what it is to be a woman. Carrie and the crew flaunt their independence and success, yet constantly want more while they refuse to act or accept their age. Much of the clothes they wear are far too young for them, while there’s a refusal to acknowledge the march of time (Samantha’s menopause battle) or to enter into a relationship without sabotaging it with a teen girl crisis. Their narcissism knows no bounds when they traipse up and down the streets of Abu Dhabi as if it were Fifth Avenue, insensitive to the customs of that region. Yes, women are not treated as equals in this part of the world, yet assuming the role of the ugly American is not the way to go about addressing this issue. The irony of the film is that if these four were to embrace their age and appreciate what they have, they’d be far sexier and appealing than they are now. As it is, this is just an elaborate, misguided game of dress-up.
Contact Chuck Koplinski at email@example.com.