Film >The lame-ing of the shrews
The Swarovski suspension of disbelief required to properly indulge the Sex and the City phenomenon in its initial televised incarnation was regularly rewarded by its post-feminist brazenness as much as it was by the willingness of a predominately aging female (or gay) demographic to relate to exactly one of its four protagonists. Are you a Carrie? Of course you are. Writer Michael Patrick King’s literal and literary fleshing out of original author Candace Bushnell’s four modern ladies against the backdrop of the New York skyline remains a frank and fabulous time capsule of pre-recession pheromones and expensive shoes. The leap of faith, at least then, was worth it.
But within the first 10 minutes of this obligatory sequel to the franchise’s 2008 silver-screen brush – itself forgivable if only for the heady wedding drama and costumes to match – discomfort creeps in and blows a tangible disgust over any and all remaining sympathies for the ladies who lunch. One glimpse of Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) in a tuxedo and all bets are off. The gay white minstrel show (swans included) of a wedding for gay sidekicks Anthony Marantino and Stanford Blatch is more a vehicle for an uncomfortable Liza Minnelli reading of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” than it is for what you imagine to be the movie’s underlying plot conundrum: Is marriage really worth it? “Yes,” is the obvious answer, but even here it’s with the caveat that Stanford will allow Anthony to cheat in the 45 states that don’t recognize gay marriage. Ah, politics.
Turns out – as it would – that all four of our beloved shades of L’Oréal hair coloring have come up against similar nuptial roadblocks on their individual journeys out of the nightlife and into maturity. Carrie’s just written a book on surviving one year of marriage but is incredibly bored by the nesting ways of her paramour Mr. Big (Chris Noth) and his appreciation for take-out dinners and, wait for it, a brand new flat-screen television in the bedroom. Charlotte’s woes aren’t so much with her husband Harry as her couture-ruining adopted daughters and their bra-less nanny (yes, there is a wet T-shirt scene, fellas). Miranda is forever tied to her smart phone thanks to a new asshole boss (Ron “Tater Salad” White) and her career-woman ways are making her miss out on her son’s rat-in-a-maze science fair victory. And Samantha, well she’s ditched her actor-boytoy, though she’ll still “throw him a fuck if the movie’s good.” That movie is being filmed in Abu Dhabi and is probably no worse than this one. A sheik producer invites the ladies over, all expenses paid. Girl trip!
Middle Eastern stereotype hilarity ensues, with punny references to women eating French fries under their burqas (also, unbelievably, some of the women sport Pat Field’s wardrobing beneath their robes!) and Charlotte falling off a camel to reveal a crotchy camel toe. There are heisty hijinks involving lost passports and spice bags and menopause drugs and “inter-friend-tions,” but they all just blow pointlessly around in the desert dust. Out of nowhere, Carrie’s former love Aidan pops up to retrieve some semblance of a storyline only to make things worse by, gulp, kissing her. She falls apart, the world falls apart, the film falls apart long before its conclusion after two and a half hours, while the ladies in the audience try to laugh at what once meant something so much more to them. That time capsule is broken.
“And just like that, it was 1998,” Carrie says, cobbling some kind of a conclusion on her tail-tucked dismount back into New York. If only it were.