More gratuitous 'Sex' leaves much to be desired

Courtesy of New Line
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BY CARLY STEINBERGER
Daily Arts Writer
Published June 2, 2010

While “Sex and the City 2” is fun and relatively easy to watch, even the die-hard fans of the show would probably agree that the film is gratuitous. And if they don’t agree with that assessment, they would certainly acknowledge that it takes self-indulgence to a new level that is almost sickening.

"Sex and the City 2"


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New Line

The television series is known for promoting a lavish lifestyle — almost all of the characters, even the minor ones, are very financially successful. They go to the hottest bars and wear Manolo Blahniks on their feet. But even the show has its limits, promoting this ritzy way of life within the realm of reality. “Sex and the City 2," however, glorifies the glamour of an unattainable life.

The sequel opens almost exactly where the first film left off. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is finally happily married to John Preston (Chris Noth), nicknamed “Big” on the show, after years of a tumultuous relationship. Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) still loves being a lawyer and struggles to find time to spend with her son. Charlotte (Kristin Davis) now has two daughters and is still married to her quirky husband. And Samantha (Kim Cattrall), forever confident in herself, is regaining her insatiable sex drive, briefly halted as a result of menopause.

There’s one crucial difference involving two of the show’s minor but unforgettable characters. Stanford Blatch (Willie Garson), Carrie’s gay best friend, and Anthony Marentino (Mario Cantone), Charlotte’s gay best friend, are getting married. Previously enemies, the two have finally learned to love each other.

While this new layer to the “Sex and the City” story is hilarious and sweet, the wedding scene soon commences, and the audience gets its first taste of the film’s excess. Everything is the world of “Sex and the City” seems perfect at this point. Why further the plot?

It’s more about just taking the shows many admirers for one last spin, giving them one last opportunity to escape into a world of luxury. But the problem here is that there’s nowhere left to go — there’s nothing left to be added to the dazzlingly classy lives of the New York City girls.

So each character is given a bit of an obstacle. Miranda has problems with the new senior partner at her law firm. Charlotte struggles with motherhood while worrying about her husband being tempted by the hot nanny. Samantha is still trying to beat menopause with creams and the advice of Suzanne Somers. Carrie, despite her initial happiness, is worried that her marriage is losing its “sparkle.”

As a PR representative, Samantha scores the girls a free trip to the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi. Like Dubai, the city of Abu Dhabi is trying to attract large amounts of Western tourists. This is when the audience really begins to feel the film’s bloat and the gross level of indulgence it furthers.

The rest of “Sex and the City 2” mainly consists of the characters enjoying the perks of the extravagant hotel. Their suite has too many rooms to count and they each have their own servant. They ride around the city in their own personal cars. It’s hard to convey in text the degree to which everything is overblown, although it is later revealed that the suite in which the girls are staying costs $22,000 a night.

With the exception of Carrie, each of the protagonists takes a bit of a break from her life and her relatively minute problems. Carrie, however, still laments over how to make her marriage work and how to remain interesting. She even criticizes Charlotte in the process, telling her she simply doesn’t get it. This whole problem feels like a total regression for Carrie and she seems almost uncharacteristically edgy. It feels contrived and, of course, gratuitous. The underlying message of the show still persists, though—it’s about four friends who, despite their differences, love and support each other no matter what. But we already knew that.

While “Sex and the City 2” is just attempting to take its viewers for one last ride, there’s really no place to go. But if you’re looking for one last chance to visit the characters you love, albeit in improbable, tired situations — or just a fling with frivolities and fashion — then “Sex and City 2” will be a fun trip.