Sex and the City 2 (R)
Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown
You are not Carrie. Your friends are not Samantha, Charlotte or Miranda. This can be stated categorically. It's not an insult, but an assurance: There are simply no human beings in the real world as condescending, grasping and pathologically stupid as the women in writer-director Michael Patrick King's Sex and the City 2. At least, one can hope there aren't.
King has taken an HBO series beloved by many for, in its purest form, glitzy escapism wrapped in semi-relatable romantic panic — not to mention a somewhat successful feature adaptation in 2008 — and melted it down to scrap-metal shards of asexuality and life-threatening levels of cultural illiteracy.
The film opens with the wedding of Anthony (Mario Cantone) and Stanford (Willie Garson), and if it's possible for a gay writer-director to come off as homophobic, it occurs here. The stereotypes are only outweighed by the half-joking gay panic thrown around by the cast — especially our gals. They giggle at every wink from a homosexual, as if simply knowing a person has sex with men is inherently hilarious. The revelation that the two men's marriage comes with its own "rules," and that the insisted permissiveness of the vows might cause great pain to at least one party, breezes over the harpies' heads, and we turn to the next inconsequential subplot: Carrie's a total bitch!
Yes, the relationship advice guru has been forced to confront the mundane existence of marriage, which in this insultingly unrealistic world means ordering take-out and watching TV once in a blue moon. Empty-headed prima donna Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) can't fathom such a thing, nor can she reconcile making time for her vapid writing in a house with such awfulness as ... that TV. (Hey, devoted HBO watchers! She hated you all along!)
The trauma of realizing she married someone with his own needs is enough to send her packing, via Samantha's (Kim Cattrall) good fortune, to Abu Dhabi, a fabulously high-end getaway for businesspeople, but also a country with a poor human rights record and one under Sharia law, to boot. Wackiness and potential jail sentences ensue!
Somehow, the highest stakes in this unending portion of the film involve a race to the airport that could mean the difference between first-class and coach seating. But the comic tension King attempts to ratchet up with the culture clash is, to anyone who even remotely follows the news, far more tense than King, or the women, realize.
Not to be a killjoy, but when Samantha blithely refers to the United Arab Emirates as "the new Middle East," she's not just being Samantha, she's dead wrong — a fact she comes face-to-face with when she's arrested for kissing a rugged Australian tourist on the beach. The scene uncomfortably calls to mind a recent British couple sentenced to prison in the UAE for kissing in a restaurant.
While Samantha and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) suss out the details, Carrie and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) walk outside the police station to talk about their marriages and what they've learned. If this kind of thing were a spoof, a knowing nod to the complete disregard for genuine life-and-death dangers, it would be a great gag. But King has no such awareness, and neither do the characters.
You and your friends are not the Sex and the City gals, and for that — for having read a non-fiction book in your life, or for having done something kind for someone else, or for ever having listened to someone bitch about their nanny problems while wanting to key the side of their Lexus — you owe yourself a Cosmo.