Saturday, March 9, 2013

Old Friends Fail To Entertain With Sex And The City 2!

The Good: Moments of cinematography, Moments of humor
The Bad: Characters are stalled, Not terribly funny, No great acting, Overly familiar
The Basics: A droll sequel that feels like one, Sex And The City 2 is a series of recycled plots and character moments that only the die-hard fans are likely to endure.

The very best cinematic follow-ups to television shows ought to either continue the adventures and character development from the small screen or tell a completely new story that utilizes the characters in a way that the small screen never could. Some of the best series’­ avoid the temptation to tell more story (Lost’s recent series finale, for example, left plenty of story opportunities open that one may only hope never get ruined by a sub-standard cinematic sequel) and let the series rest where it ended. Sex And The City is not like that. Sadly, almost as soon as it was off the air, the film was announced and shortly thereafter, Sex And The City 2 was announced. This, alas, could have been a fan-loved film that brought new fans to the series, but instead it has the feel of being an entirely cheap sequel.

Truth be told, I did not see the first cinematic Sex And The City, but the film catches viewers up very quickly before launching into the “new” story. I write new in quotes because the story has been done to death on the television show, it is just done in a different setting in Sex And The City 2. I gave up on Sex And The City after Season 3 and not only did I not feel at all lost with where Sex And The City 2 went, but I didn’t feel like I was watching anything I had not already seen before. Indeed, all but one of the major characters in Sex And The City 2 were present in the television series by season three (the holdout being Charlotte’s husband Harry).

Sex And The City 2 opens with what one has to assume is a favorite bit of fanfic, which finds Carrie Bradshaw meeting Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda in the early 1980s. After they befriend one another, the film shifts gears to the present day (two years after the first movie). Carrie is in a rut with Mr. Big, who wants to stay in when she wants to go out at night and Charlotte’s life is overrun by her children. An old beau of Samantha, a movie producing sheik, asks for Samantha’s help on a movie shoot and offers to fly her and her friends over to Abu Dhabi to consult on his film. This getaway for the four friends seems perfect.

But while in Abu Dhabi, temptation rears its ugly head. Carrie meets up with her former lover, Aiden and sees his being there as a sign. When they kiss, Carrie has a crisis of conscience and debates on whether or not to tell her husband. Charlotte’s eye wanders while away from Harry and Miranda enjoys the sun and tries to advise Carrie on how to handle her situation. But soon, Samantha’s sexual antics have the quartet on the run from the more conservative elements in the Middle East.

Basically, it’s Sex And The City before it degenerates into “ethnic mismatch comedy” of the most generic sort. Most of the movie is spend in Abu Dhabi and while this initially seems like it might shake up the Sex And The City formula, it fails to. Running into Aiden in Abu Dhabi is much the same as it was when Carrie randomly ran into him in New York City in season three of the television show. In fact, the whole movie ultimately has the feel of the Los Angeles arc that the television show did, just in a different sunny city.

The problem, of course, is in a formulaic plot that keeps the characters ultimately stagnant. This is not Married Life (reviewed here!), it’s Sex And The City and as such, there has to be sex, melodrama and moralizing in an over-the-top way about decisions most people are actually smart enough to avoid by not putting themselves into the initial, problematic situations that force the decisions. Miranda is a virtual nonentity in this film, which makes one wonder why Cynthia Nixon bothered to come back. Sure, Nixon and Miranda have a sage-like quality and is fun to watch, but there are no great character leaps for Miranda in this outing. Similarly, Samantha is still a hornball and Charlotte is still trying to be the faithful “good girl” long past when she last actually was one (in the series her character loses her initial path ridiculously quickly).

But then there is Carrie. In Sex And The City 2, Carrie is a homogeneously uninteresting character. She spent years hunting Mr. Big and now that she has him, she doesn’t know whether or not she wants (or how) to keep him. Their sexual magnetism - which some would have argued was more assumed than shown on-screen anyway - is largely drained and whether or not Carrie feels it, it is hard for the viewer not to feel like she has made the wrong decision. That is, until Aiden appears. The appearance of Aiden could have been a huge thing for the fans, but the truth is, when he appears, the result is more of a groan than an excited gasp. Aiden’s appearance feels contrived and Carrie’s debating on how improbable his appearance is makes it feel more contrived, not less.

Ultimately, Sex And The City 2 does not add to the acting range of Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristen Davis or Cynthia Nixon, it simply allows them to once again step into the familiar shoes (metaphorically) of the characters that they embodied for years. There is nothing truly new here and too many of the moments in the film have the principles looking bored with the material, like they know they have said similar lines before. I know I’ve heard the lines from them before, so that reaction is absolutely no surprise.

For other Sex And The City reviews, please visit:
Sex And The City - Season 3
Sex And The City - Season 2
Sex And The City - Season 1


For other film reviews, please check out my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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