(2010), USA, 146 mins
DIRECTOR: Michael Patrick King | CAST: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis, Chris Noth | RATING: 2.5/5
Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda are back in the least anticipated blockbuster sequel of 2010. This time the ladies are struggling with married life, child care and a lack of opulence in post Global Financial Crisis Manhattan. So when Samantha is invited to publicise a seven star hotel in Abu Dhabi, she jumps at the chance to take her three besties to experience the luxury of the ‘new’ Middle East.
Unfortunately for all of us, the powers that be in Abu Dhabi weren’t keen on their country being depicted by the SATC franchise and refused the filmmakers permission to shoot there. So instead, Morocco and a series of American soundstages double for the real deal. Director King isn’t exactly a visual stylist so faux Abu Dhabi looks about as lush and well appointed as an episode of I DREAM OF JEANNIE.
The show’s original audience – straight women and gay men – loved it for its ground-breaking handling of previously taboo subjects and its daring comedy. During its life as a television series it went from being an edgy indie hit to a roaring mainstream success.
There are two ways to approach this movie. One is as a critic with an axe to grind about its shallowness. Worse still, if you have read the press SATC 2 has received, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s more controversial than Lars Von Trier’s ANTICHRIST. In the last few days, I have seen it pilloried for being anti-woman, anti-gay and anti-Muslim. I don’t think any of these analyses holds water.
The second way to approach this behemoth of a film is to be more open minded that it isn’t political, feminist and culturally sensitive enough, because this is not the constituency that SATC is touting for. It’s a glitteringly kitsch entertainment and any other message it may carry is a sideshow and not the main event.
What SATC 2 is mostly, is too damned big. It suffers from the same problem as many television shows that are turned into film franchises. There is a struggle to convert small screen characters and their world onto the big screen. The ‘failure to adapt’ theory was also held by my friend AJ, whom I invited along to the screening as a more expert witness. She has seen the entire series as compared to my dozen or so episodes. She felt that the first movie had taken the more nuanced characters of the series and caricatured them. She didn’t feel the sequel improved on this. I asked her what she wanted out of the movie and she said, ‘Glorious fashion, ridiculous fashion and the best things New York has to offer.” And she felt that SATC 2 delivered this.
For a non-fan like myself, I was disappointed that there is really only one character – Carrie – and that everyone else seems to have receded into the shadows. Why is Miranda (Nixon) mainly a talking guidebook? Where are her one liners? Why does Big’s resolution with Carrie smack of wish fulfillment? Have all the original characters been snatched by aliens and replaced with less lively and less interesting clones?
All this is to quibble. The preview audience LOVED this film and laughed at every joke. As a rule of thumb I would suggest that if the first film offended your idea of SATC the series, then this film will not be to your taste. If you enjoyed that first film, buckle up for the sequel. There will be swans, cupcakes, karaoke and Liza with ‘z’. Enjoy.