Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 31, 2021)
After six seasons on HBO from 1998 to 2004, Sex and the City leapt to the big screen in 2008. Sex and the City: The Movie became a pretty sizable hit, as it brought in $418 million worldwide on a $65 million budget.
Inevitably, this led to a sequel, and 2010 brought Sex and the City 2. Its $290 million worldwide meant it did decently at the box office, but after the huge profits of the first film, the second one barely broke even. This meant no Sex and the City 3, and that might be a good thing.
At the end of the 2008 flick, Manhattan journalist/party girl Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) finally got a relationship commitment from her long-term on-again/off-again paramour “Mr. Big” (Chris Noth). However, Big feels content to stay home and chill, whereas Carrie still wants to live the same freewheeling social life, and this creates conflict.
Her pals Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Samantha (Kim Cattrall) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) all go through their own personal issues as well. When Samantha manages to land a gig in Abu Dhabi, her three long-time pals come along for some R&R as well.
That doesn’t sound like much of a plot, does it? “Four well-off women vacation together” feels like a loose construct more than anything else, especially when one considers the film’s running time.
Granted, the first film’s 145 minutes seemed surprisingly extended for a character flick that mixed comedy and melodrama – and the Blu-ray added footage to get to 151 minutes. At 146 minutes, City 2 offers a virtually identical amount of cinematic real estate as its theatrical predecessor.
I could excuse the 2008 flick’s length because it needed to throw out some exposition for viewers who never saw the TV series. Though the flick didn’t devote a lot of space to “recap time”, it still engaged in some of that.
In theory, City 2 doesn’t need to bother with all that background. One assumes that viewers of a sequel also saw the prior film, so the movie shouldn’t need to give us much real exposition beyond a summary of what happened between the two flicks.
With so much cinematic real estate at its disposal, one might think those behind City 2 could generate a solid narrative. However, the film comes with almost literally no plot.
Instead, we get a cheap melange of general character themes, none of which endear the characters to us. Poor Carrie – her husband gives in to all her over the top apartment decorating ideas but he doesn’t want to attend galas seven nights a week! What a horror!
Her pals seem similarly annoying in their “plights”. All four enjoy the most pampered of wealthy lives, and yet they find plenty of reasons to complain.
Of course, money doesn’t buy happiness, but City 2 doesn’t find humanity in the issues that confront the characters. Instead, they whine about issues that only impact folks with lots of money – like worrying because your nanny might be too sexy.
Though I never watched the HBO series, I must assume it found some humanity in the roles and ways for viewers to connect to them. I can’t believe the characters of the TV show felt so superficial, glib and self-absorbed as the ones on display here.
Of course, much of the appeal of the City franchise comes from its fantasy value, as it presents a world of fashion, parties and sex that appeals to its audience. This feels like it can work if it still connects to reality in some ways, but since >City 2 offers such an over the top piece of fluff, it becomes incredibly off-putting.
We do get plenty of the usual “fashion porn”, and even that flops, mainly because the film takes these choices to such extremes. The leads change clothes constantly, and they go from one ridiculous outfit to another on a relentless pace. Don’t they ever wear anything normal?
I suspect City 2 goes to Abu Dhabi mainly so it can editorialize about the treatment of women there. The film desperately wants to come across as progressive, but instead it just feels judgmental, racist and smug.
City 2 is a movie that thinks it’ll change the world because its self-righteous rich white leads sing “I Am Woman” at Karaoke. It subscribes to a cartoon view of society that exists solely so those involved can pat themselves on the back.
Sex and the City 2 offers a movie so bad that even most diehard fans of the series seem to dislike it. This becomes a long, tedious, witless experience.