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Sex And The City 2 (2010) -vs- Sex And The City (2008)

Sex and the City 2 -vs- Sex and the City

Sherry CobenThe Smackdown

Harmless fun. A trifle. Stop thinking so much. Lay back and enjoy it. I would if I could but I can’t. I’m a feminist. I’m a mother. I’m a writer. I’m a critical thinker and a sentient being. And I can’t help it. I don’t like stupid, offensive, unfunny pieces of jerry-rigged, half-assed claptrap disguised as popular entertainment and I never will.

You can’t fool me with shiny clothing and costume changes, stale jokes and bad puns a mildly clever third grader can see coming at thirty paces, unconvincing plot contrivances, jacked-up complications, inane complaints, blissful unawareness of social mores and dignity, flagrant political incorrectness, shameless insensitivity, brazen condescension and hypocrisy all in the name of enlightenment and modernity. Add shoes and that’s the SATC franchise in a nutshell. Brace yourselves.

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The Challenger

Carrie and Miranda and Charlotte and Samantha Go To The Middle East in this tone-deaf paean to consumerism and seventies-style “We Are Women” too-little-way-too-late hypocritical feminism. An equal opportunity offender, no group is spared the blatant tastelessness, the bogusness, the lameness, the patronizing, the over-familiarity, the (bad) punning, the keening, preening, overweening unctuousness and the just plain badness. The fab foursome arrive at their fancy Abu Dhabi digs, oohing and aahing out of all proportion to the circumstance. You know the commercials for Disneyland and Vegas where families wander around plasticized versions of unreality in open-mouthed awe? A room? With a ceiling? And furniture? What a freaking Miracle!

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The Defending Champion

The television series made its first foray to the big screen; a sort of Whatever Happened To super-sized equivalent of four episodes with a big budget blown giddily on ridiculous clothing. Charlotte gets pregnant. Miranda (and Steve) break up and gets back together. Samantha gets naked. Carrie gets married…or does she? Yawn. Nothing much new here. And the minions ate it up. To the tune of $415 million worldwide. No wonder there’s a sequel.

The Scorecard

I’ve already spouted in two previous posts about the first feature outing in this franchise. I’ve reread them recently and find them still relevant. In an effort to avoid redundancy, for more of my SATC
ranting, I invite and encourage you to check out these links: Sex and the City (2008) -vs- The Women (1939) and The Women (2008) -vs- Sex and the City (2008)

My bottom line: To quote Abraham Lincoln: People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.

On the other hand, SATC2 strikes me as an entirely different, misguided and unfortunately noxious kettle of fish.

At the gay wedding that opens the leisurely and lethargic two and a half hour behemoth, SATC2, Liza Minnelli does her Beyonce-channeling best, cruelly exposed like some sort of biological specimen pinned to an examining table. Look. The Fading Film Star In Her Later Years. All the Surgery In The World Can Not Disguise Her Frailty, Her Gay Iconitude, Her Camp Value, Her Diminishing Dance Talent. Things get creepy fast and stay creepy, and you won’t be able to erase the images from your mind no matter how much you might want to. Women around me seemed to be enjoying themselves, never so much as the revelers onscreen, and I’m dead certain the franchise will rake in the cash, but such lax tomfoolery, such lazy race-baiting, gay-coddling, dumbed-down junk doesn’t deserve to reap such rewards. And audiences deserve better. Much better.

Charlotte’s got a nanny. She’s young and attractive and she leads with her breasts. Dear Charlotte, You still give good face, but you can’t compete in the hooters department. Never could. Naturally, with a husband as blandly generic and cueball-dishy as Evan Handler’s Harry, you’re right to worry. Your daughters encroach on your me-time more than you thought they might, and you don’t have the sense you were born with, but you’re still the prettiest of all your friends. Cold comfort. Pout and soldier on. You wear your vintage St. Laurent beige pencil skirt to bake cupcakes, and when you blithely
ignore your daughters to phone a friend, icing one-handed, the resulting two perfect icing handprints on your butt send you weeping into a closet. Frankly, Charlotte, I don’t give a damn.

And you, Miranda, whose law firm workplace strife comes off every bit as well-observed, insightful and truthful as a Barbie game played by preschool children. Your “work problems” are cursorily explored in cellphone calls and texts and one lone meeting, every bit as vague and generic and dopey as your happy ending’s “cool” multi-ethnic, rooftop-celebrating co-workers solving world hunger or whatever. Arriving just in time for the science fair awards, you grin idiotically, celebrating your supermom status. Give yourself a medal. All evidence to the contrary, you’re the smart one. We know this because of the SATC not-so-secret code: usually your hair doesn’t look as good and your clothing sense isn’t always the best. You read books and you take the trouble to learn the culture and the language. If you’re so smart, what the hell are you doing hanging out a window waving a silk scarf and whooping at passing Bedouins? Then you take Charlotte to a bar to divulge your deepest mommy secrets. (It’s hard work. Q: How do you do it? A: You don’t.) You coax her to come clean, plying her with liquor, and honestly, I thought you were about to pounce on her and finally ditch that tragically lame space-holder hubby and the über-creepy son. Not to mention horror movie Magda. Now, that would have been a twist.

Oh, Carrie. Carrie. Carrie. You poor thing. I’d feel sorry for you if I had a spare moment but I’m too busy trying to figure out how I’m going to afford my daughter’s last year of college without losing our
house. Poor Carrie. Your wishes have come true, and you’re not sure you’ve achieved Nirvana. You have the perfect apartment, the perfect job, the perfect closet, and your pied-à-terre on the side. But, Carrie, say it ain’t so. Your husband watches TV and lies on the couch. Let’s have a telethon for you. How dare he relax at home after a day at his vague high-pay high-rise high-finance office? It’s just the two of you, and I’m sure that’s not as kicky and fun as effing every man who crosses your path for a decade. Why don’t you change your clothes again? That solves everything. Love means never having to think about anyone but yourself, right? How dare The New Yorker pan your crappy book! Those heathens. Those misogynists. What a slap in the face. I’m canceling my subscription. They can’t do that to my Carrie. Oh sure, you have horrific taste in hats; that Best Man black lace thing was a cruel cruel joke, right? It’s been two years; I say we never mention that bird monstrosity again. And nothing
says “I’m going on an airplane flight for thirteen long hours” like a giant straw chapeau approximating the cowpat that jumped over the moon. Pat Field’s just testing how far she can go, inspiring fashionista sheep to forgo asking themselves whether a garment flatters or just plain doesn’t. You aging girls can change every five minutes and wear strictly couture, but here’s the bottom line: The emperor has no clothes! SATC2 has jumped the fashion shark!

But I reserve the worst wrath for last. Samantha Jones. Menopausal Mouthpiece. Blatantly Racist Foulmouthed Slut Gone International. Ogling Crotches. Overexposed, Oversexed, Over The Top. The unfortunate way-too-casual-casualty of the sexual revolution. Going spangled toe to toe with Miley Cyrus, flashing too much flesh poolside and camel-top, spewing all the very worst puns and double entendres. You’ve overstayed your welcome, outlasted your sell-by date, overstepped the boundaries of taste and decorum and decency. You’re a Gorgon, a horror, and it hurts to look and listen to your breakdown. In the name of protesting a culture that blatantly oppresses women, the pendulum swing to promiscuity postergirl Samantha is too much by half. Such lusty no-holds-barred narcissism is no argument for liberation.

The Decision

I’ve said it before. People are going to like these movies; there’s nothing I can say to change that. But they’re wrong. They deserve better. They deserve smarter. That said, SATC2 makes SATC look like Citizen Effing Kane. In retrospect, I appreciate its relative inoffensiveness. At least, I never feared the first film might incite any international incidents or Fatwas. Now, there’s a new and lower bar. Sex and The City. Sigh.

About Sherry Coben 77 Articles
A comedy writer who created the 1980s hit show Kate & Allie, Sherry Coben — tired of malingering in development hell — has enjoyed coaching a high school ComedySportz team in SoCal, making a no-budget, high-ambition webisode series, and biting the hand that feeds her.

12 Comments on Sex And The City 2 (2010) -vs- Sex And The City (2008)

  1. I actually enjoyed the first SATC film, a lot more than I expected. By the sounds of this, and by some of the clips I’ve seen, I will skip the sequel until I get a freebie at the DVD rental store.

  2. Sherry, you nailed the last nail on this coffin known as SATC. I used to watch the tv series at first because it was entertaining… but I gradually grew up… too bad the characters on SATC never did. I watched the first movie and felt it was bland, and I only went because curiosity got the better of me. But of all the characters there in, the one that rubs be raw is Carrie. I have never seen such a superficial character be so… superficial. Doesn’t even attempt to have some depth. Its like a limbo dance of how shal”low” can Carrie go? I’ve yet to see the 2nd movie, and after your insightful blog I think Ill be waiting for this to air on a Mexican tv station.. (a very long time).

  3. Hmm…this is one of those sticky wickets. I don’t want to support it either but I did want my voice included in all the hubbub surrounding the much hyped release. There’s so much worth discussing; maybe, Jay, you can justify going to satisfy your purely intellectual curiosity. Then you can join in this fun big time…and maybe you can figure out a way to go for free.

  4. I agree with you and Charlotte. It is beautifully written, but I also think those who believe every word of it literally, do so at their own spiritual peril.

  5. This is an amazing review. Your reviews, like Charlotte said, are always such a joy to read. And I agree wholeheartedly about the entire franchise, though I have yet to see the latest disaster. I don’t want to support it, but I’m so curious! What do you say, catch it in theaters or wait until it’s free via TV?

  6. Wow. You went nuclear on this one. Or is it nucular? I am a guy, and having done some informal surveying of my male friends, I have to say that none of us has been able to watch the tv show for more than three minutes without finding it completely bogus and changing the channel. I understand it has its audience but it’s Kryptonite for me. Nice review though. “Frankly Charlotte” was brilliant.

  7. This strikes me as the absolutely least appropriate place for a critical discussion of the relative literary merits of the Bible, but let’s agree that its quality is inconsistent. Thank you, Jay. Here’s a cyber-Heimlich for you.

  8. Nice command of the language, your review had me laughing so hard I was choking! More importantly, thank you for saying exactly what I’ve been thinking for years, but don’t dare say, for fear of getting one of those sniffs “Well, he must just have a problem with Women” dismissals. Apropos of nothing, the Bible is very well written, the best of our writers have been quoting it for centuries. For sheer beauty of language, Charlotte, you can’t beat Ecclesiastes.

  9. And another thing:

  10. Thank you, Sherry. And no, I’m not that Charlotte. If I were, I’m sure I’d be too busy parenting to comment on an online movie review, right? 😉
    You know, the other day I was talking about SATC with a friend who shares my low opinion of it, and she talked about some acquaintances of hers who describe it as “their bible.” I actually think that it shares quite a bit in common with the Bible: it’s really poorly written, it seems to contradict itself a lot and send mixed messages, and while I understand that it’s very important to many people, I have a really hard time respecting the ones who base their entire lives around it… especially those who believe every word of it literally.

  11. I’m pretty sure now (and relieved to learn after all this time) that you’re not THAT Charlotte. Phew. Your line about popsicle sticks is priceless, and while I routinely enjoy your comments thoroughly, this one rates as a classic for that line alone. Bravo!

  12. That was brilliant. You are my hero. I read something on the Huffington Post about how offensive and racist this movie was, but it said that at the same time the movie was “proudly feminist.” And I went, “Bwaaah?” My head kind of explodes every time I hear the SATC franchise described as “feminist,” for all the reasons you’ve expounded here and more, and I’m so glad that someone is finally saying what has seemed glaringly obvious to me for years. All the characters are vapid, narcissistic ninnies with outrageously messed up priorities who’ve set women back eons (both the world’s perception of women and the women themselves–how many young women try to emulate these cardboard caricatures because they think that’s how they’re supposed to act?). And anyone who thinks the writing is clever probably pisses themselves every time they read a riddle on a popsicle stick.
    Also, you have a way of writing about movies that always really makes me want to see them, even the ones you pan. I can’t wait for this one. 🙂

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