Early on in Sex and the City 2, sexpot Samantha (Kim Cattrall) reveals to her friends the regimen of hormones and vitamins she’s on to ward off the effects of menopause, and insists to a skeptical Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) that all these pills and potions will actually reverse her chronological age. If only there were something similar for movie franchises, for SATC is not aging gracefully. Watching Carrie and company in this latest installment as they lead their privileged lives, unconcerned about anything but their own fulfillment, left me wondering what I ever saw in this foursome.
It’s been two years since Carrie and Mr. Big (Chris Noth) finally tied the knot, and predictably enough, the thrill is gone: He spends too much time on the sofa watching TV, and they eat takeout every night. Meanwhile, Charlotte (Kristin Davis) has a colicky baby and a worrisomely attractive nanny, and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), fed up with her boss, quits her law firm job. Deciding they all need a getaway, Samantha finagles them an all-expenses-paid trip to Abu Dhabi to experience “the new Middle East.” Naturally, their problems follow them, with Carrie wondering if it’s over between her and Big, Charlotte obsessing about her husband’s fidelity, and Samantha’s menopausal symptoms roaring back after her hormones are confiscated.
SATC 2 has its moments—a same-sex wedding at the beginning, featuring a cameo by Liza Minnelli, is hilarious—but the once-sparkling dialogue is often stilted or just plain corny (many of Miranda’s lines make her sound like a guidebook). The characters’ cultural tone-deafness is grating: In Abu Dhabi, Carrie flaunts her legs and cleavage, and Samantha’s racy behavior nearly causes an international incident. Apparently, modifying your conduct as a guest in another culture would mean the terrorists have won. Despite its two-and-a-half-hour runtime, the film has less emotional and intellectual depth than one of the half-hour TV episodes, with the mostly contrived conflicts being too easily resolved. In the world according to Carrie, marital transgressions are rewarded with bling, and Western designer clothing and vapid pop music will triumph over tradition in the Middle East.