When “Sex and the City” ended its iconic run on HBO in 2004, rumors ran rampant that a movie was in the works to further explore the adventures of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. Contract disputes muscled their way in and talk cooled. As a die-hard fan of the series, I have to admit I was at first rabid over the prospect of bopping down to my local Cineplex for more sex. As the years passed and I consoled myself by watching the entire series from start to finish on DVD, I concluded the stories of Manhattan’s sauciest gals had come to a proper close. A movie would be an unnecessary exclamation mark at the end of a glorious paragraph.
Lo and behold, 2008 brought the ladies to the big screen. In spite of my adamant position that a movie would only tarnish the legend, I was swept away by the hype. And so I, along with seven of my closest girlfriends, plunked down my hard-earned dollars to see “Sex and the City: The Movie.” I was amazed to discover that I liked it, I really liked it, even with its 2 ½ hour running time, trumped-up Big commitment issues and gratuitous casting of Jennifer Hudson. The friendship between the ladies remained strong and their struggles were just was real and fresh as they’d been during the series.
The movie was a box-office smash, which in Hollywood means a sequel. Once again, I was reticent, but put my faith in Sarah Jessica Parker and her comrades to deliver another tale filled with laughs, raunchy sex and of course shoes, but most importantly, heart.
After seeing “Sex and the City 2” during its opening weekend, my disappointment runs deep. This joyless movie was nothing more than a bunch of cheap sitcom gags and strained drama strung haphazardly together into an inexplicable two hour and twenty-three minute running time. This movie reminded me of everything I always hated about Carrie Bradshaw: a self-absorbed drama queen who thrives on chaos. Much of the series revolved around her quest to get the elusive Mr. Big to love her. In the finale, she finally got him, only to lose him in the movie then get him back once and for all. As “Sex and City 2” opens, Carrie and Big are enjoying wedded bliss, or so we think. Turns out, Carrie is questioning whether it’s enough to stare across the table at Big’s handsome mug every night. Her “suspicions” are further confirmed when, for their anniversary, Big buys a flat-screen TV for their bedroom so they can snuggle in bed and watch old movies together. This sends Carrie into crisis mode and she begins to do what Carrie does best, which is pull away.
Samantha, meanwhile is still in the throes of the longest sexual revolution on record, and her escapades are meant to spur raucous laughter (though they’re more miss than hit). The only two believable and compelling storylines come courtesy of Charlotte and Miranda. The woman who never wanted anything more than to be a wife and mother finds herself strained to the breaking point over a perpetually fussy baby, a braless nanny and fears that her loving husband, Harry, will cheat with said nanny. Miranda struggles with a demeaning boss and trying to juggle work with family time. One of the movie’s only genuine and funny scenes come when these two longtime friends commiserate over just how hard it is to be a mother.
Alas, neither these sagas, or Samantha’s hijinks or Carrie’s foolishness, are enough to fill out a movie. Writer, director, producer Michael Patrick King, thinks he can fool us by sending the quartet off to Dubai for an adventure and that we’ll be so distracted by the over-the-top costumes and sumptuous scenery, we won’t notice the paper-thin plot (I also have to give demerits for the scene that features the ladies doing karaoke to Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman.” Of all the towering girl-power anthems out there to choose from, they belt out THIS dreadful 70’s ditty?) While in Dubai, Carrie runs into her old flame, Aidan Shaw and we have to suffer through ho-hum speculation over will-they-or-won’t-they. With the exception of a few bright spots, (Liza Minelli’s rendition of “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)”, and Carrie’s remembrance of how she met the ladies, complete with 80’s-inspired flashbacks, are both winners) the entire movie feels so forced and tired and as one of the girlfriends who I saw this with put it, the whole thing dissolves into an episode of “Scooby Doo.”
There’s nothing sadder than watching a once mighty racehorse stumble and gasp across the finish line. There have been rumors that a third movie is on tap and that it would conclude the franchise. I hope it’s just that – rumors. On the strength – or lack thereof – of “Sex and the City 2” nothing can be gained from taking the ladies off ice for one last dance. All the words have been said and all the sex with indiscriminate strangers has been had. It’s time for Sarah Jessica Parker and Co. to turn out the lights for good on “Sex and the City.” I’m sad to say, but we just don’t care anymore.