This week in "He Said - He Said ..." we tackle the anticipated sequel to Sex and the City, the financially successful movie adaptation of the hit TV series, adapted from the books by Candace Bushnell. On one side, we have newcomer and trailer reviewer Calhoun Kersten who is a big fan of the series, and myself, a respectful outsider with some knowledge of the series, but not a whole lot. Did either of us like it? Did we hate it? Did we go shoe shopping afterwards? (No.) Find out in this week's episode of He Said - He Said. CLICK HERE for Bayer's full Scorecard Review of SATC2
PLOT: Carrie (Parker) and the girls are back in the city, but now Carrie feels like her relationship with Big (Noth) is losing its sparkle. Samantha (Cattrall) gets an all-expenses paid trip to Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates, and the girls are off on a luxurious vacation.
As always, we recommend you see the films before reading as spoilers are fair game. Enjoy!
He Said (Allen)
It happened one night, Calhoun, when we sat down next to each other to watch this movie. We agreed to be blank slates when it came to reacting to the film, and especially to talking about it afterward. If your eyes weren’t completely transfixed by the offensive over-indulgence on screen, you may have noticed me squirming in my chair, sighing heavily, or possibly even sneaking in a “Why, God, why?” face. I apologize if I obstructed your viewing experience at all with these actions. But I can’t help if it my body has a mental spasm whenever someone as idiotically written as Samantha says some monkey-brained writer’s pun like “He’s the Lawrence of my labia.” And don’t worry, as you also may have noticed, I scribbled down plenty of other examples, mostly so I would never in my life have to commit them to memory.
Sex and the City 2 is not the type of movie that can be excused of its crimes against movie quality because some of its viewers may or may not fit a certain “target audience.” Of course, movies like this and those effin’ Twilight movies have the right to play into their own gated communities of obsessed fans, but until these slogs buy their own cinemas like in the old days they will still be (unnecessarily long) reels of films that should offer the POTENTIAL of being liked by those that do not fit their immediate audience. Aware of the lame accusations one could cast on me concerning my hatred for this piece of shit movie, I will make my background clear: I enjoyed Sex and the City, and have seen probably five or six episodes of the show. I can name all four of the leading women, both by character and the actress who plays them, and I have had many (intense) conversations with dedicated fans about the show and the stories it tries to tell.
But for the love of whatever god let this attack on my soul happen, I can not even attempt to say I found anything bearable about this gluttonous experience. I can say that I’ve seen a lot of crap this year, such as Furry Vengeance, The Bounty Hunter and The Spy Next Door, and this one skyrockets itself to the very bottom of that waste basket. Does jewelry still sparkle at the bottom of a trash bag?
He Said (Kersten)
I wish I could say the answer was yes, but unfortunately Nick, all that glitters is NOT gold. See, I admit that I brought my own baggage to this movie. I’ve been through all six seasons with these characters and for the most part, I’ve loved my time spent with them. When they first walked the streets of New York back in 1998, I fell in love. But something happened in the translation from little screen to the silver screen. The thing that so many of us loved were that there was something real or at least relatable about these women. Unfortunately in the case of Sex and the City 2 any trace of dimensionality flew out the window as soon as I saw those glittery opening credits.
I admit, I bring something else into the mix that just can’t be ignored, as evidenced by the appearance of Liza within the first 15 minutes and some of the jokes in the film. I know as a homo, I’m supposed to worship the ground these women tread. But here’s the thing, Samantha was her usual slutty self, and Carrie was conflicted about her relationship with Big as usual. It had been done before, with a mix of style and substance, but not this time around.
I know, I know, my reaction as a gay man is the least of my worries, but honestly, how was I supposed to react as a man period? Or let me boil it down to an even lower common denominator, how was I supposed to react as an audience member? I had no idea how I was supposed to feel except when some clumsy pun worked its way in and I knew I was supposed to chuckle, but all I could do was sit stunned that it got a laugh. I’ll see your “Lawrence of my labia” and raise you a distressed Carrie’s “I’m going through a mid-WIFE crisis.”
Maybe I’m holding on too tightly to the characters I knew and loved, but what about you? As someone who never watched the entire series, do you think it’s easier for you to forgive these characters? Or more importantly, as a straight guy, do you have ANY idea why so many people feel compelled to sleep with Samantha?
He Said (Allen)
Is it easier to forgive these characters? For wasting my time? Never. And as for your Samantha question, I don't get it either. She hits you over the head with her promiscuity that it's aggravating, a trait that doesn't lend itself towards sexual attraction. Forget the proposition of whether someone her age can be attractive or not, someone as forced and disgusting as her is not attractive, but in the SATC world I guess this works for a few unfortunate pawns. Like Dick Spurt. What a desperate joke, Michael Patrick King.
I need to unleash into this movie. I am not sure whether your disappointment and somewhat delicate response is related to a lack of rage you may have against this movie, but I must say that my testosterone explodes whenever I think about the experience that is Sex and the City 2. I'll just lay them out in a list, since this may or may not get long.
- What are their problems? Okay, so Charlotte suffers from some sort of boob envy (which I have no sympathy for considering that men go through the same thing with penis envy), Carrie is upset that Big wants to have two days a part (even though she started it) and Samantha and Miranda ... lack any real problem until the script remembers that it must do something with these actual characters. There doesn't seem to be a real conflict in the entire movie until Carrie kisses Aidan, which is a stupid moment but at least registers as some sort of emotional complication. It doesn't come until an hour and fifty minutes in, and it is followed by Samantha getting arrested for kissing (why are the women put in situations where they are both punished for kiss-related actions?) Either way, the point of this ranty paragraph is that the majority of this movie is about absolutely nothing, and at least the first movie offered something compelling with at least 3/4 characters (Charlotte's life seemed a bit stable compared to Miranda's reasonably emotionally involving story with her husband). Now, you've got New Yorkers who are too stuck up to accept the roles of domesticity that they have asked for. Charlotte doesn't understand that you don't wear vintage skirts when baking with children, and Carrie thinks it's the end of "Sparkle" if her husband wants to order take-out. - That being said, this over indulgent insult of a movie has the ethics of the worst type of art film, something that is ironic considering that each shot in this movie has the budget of a well-deserving independent film that will now never see the light of day. It's full of itself and incredibly pompous, and thinks that it doesn't have to offer its audience anything revolving a core story when it can let its visuals do the work. If you're trying to watch this movie as a person who doesn't get a wallet erection from glimpsing at shoes, servants, or hotel lobbies, then welcome to Glamour Hell. - A flaw in the first movie was that the men were not given enough hearsay, but at least they were involved somewhat in the "conflicts" that the women were experiencing. Now, this is not the case. Not only are the female characters written on autopilot, but the men (mostly Big) are hardly considered at all. I'd say they are as flat as a piece of paper, but at least a piece of paper has two sides.
It's astonishing to me at least that this movie could suck harder than the first, and it doesn't even have a Jennifer Hudson cameo. I am not sure if you're going to agree with what I've said or find something to dispute with, but I have got to stop typing. I am about to smash my Macbook into a wall. I am man, hear me roar!
He Said (Kersten)
I think the delicacy you’re referring to is just how I talk. I don’t know, maybe it’s a gay thing. Because as this movie would have it, I should probably mention my homosexuality, love of Liza and/or Barbara, and my affinity for all things bedazzled. Is that the kind of over-the-top, one-note character writing you’re talking about in this movie? Because if that’s the case, I get it.
It’s also possible that I was so forgiving because I wanted to like it more. I had a huge issue with the treatment of the characters in the first movie, mainly because they seemed so foreign to me. Anyone who watched the show knows that Steve never would have cheated on Miranda! Jesus, did I really get so worked up about that as to supply an exclamation point? But I digress. The character assassination that continues throughout this film was nothing new to me so I guess it just wasn’t as shocking.
What I did find shocking though was the influence of the men, even though they were barely onscreen. The whole movie’s “crisis” (although I usually reserve that term with a little more legitimacy) is about Carrie not wanting to settle down. It’s exactly what you were talking about, the sparkle, but by the film’s end, it’s a moot point. She ends up compromising herself for the man she loves. I just honestly couldn’t believe it.
Then again, that’s the name of the game here. It’s all about believability, which this movie has little to offer. See, somewhere in between Carrie dressing slutty and actually acting slutty, this movie tried to make a point. It tried to return to its feminist roots as it brought up the treatment of women in Middle Eastern society. I remember thinking that it might confront the issue when I first saw the poster of the ladies decked out in the desert. It seems like it might actually take a stance on the issue and I was excited. But then, it happened. That cheap third act, that caused groan after groan. They had the potential for a point early on in the movie, but what do they do when the time comes to dish out? Of course, they play it for a cheap joke.
Honestly, maybe I’m just taking the whole damn thing too seriously and I should have just looked at all the pretty colors, but by the end of its obscenely long running time, I was offended by the movie. Forget their callous and heartily Western and one-note portrayal of the Middle East (for the record, my parents lived in Saudi Arabia for several years and my sister was born there and all I’ve heard have been fascinating stories), it’s everywhere in the movie. It’s in their treatment of the gay men, the women. I’d even go so far as to say the “sanctity of marriage” right-wingers are always yammering on about. Not even on ideological level, this movie offends just about all five senses.
Okay, maybe I’m going too far… I can’t attest to the whole sense of smell (although a camel in real life doesn’t smell too nice) but you get the picture. It wasn’t even too far into the opening credits that I could feel the onset of cataracts from all the bling. But then again, Sex and the City 2 is supposed to be all about the spectacle. New sights and new fashions. The problem is half the fashions, even as a mo, I don’t really get. They were either ugly or eyesores, but the sad part is, all this flick’s really got to offer is the fashion. Style over substance wins out again with this one.
He Said (Allen)
I reassembled my computer just so I could "Abu Dhabi Do" this final statement: Sex and the City 2 suffers from the worst type of sophomore laziness. It thinks that since the first one did so well, it can cut back on any remotely mental element drastically and just show pretty looking things regardless of whether their context is in poor taste or not. Those who thought the second act in Mexico in Sex and the City was bad are in for a whooping with the usage of Abu Dhabi, which becomes a surrogate New York for the ladies. Even across the world, they roam around there with little reason for existence except to bring to life fashion show runways and fantasies of unreasonable finanical fantasy.
Even as a fan you didn't like this one, and I'm glad you didn't get sucked in by this movie's vacuous nature. Though I am looking forward to talking to a fan of the show who likes this movie. Is it one that can be defended? I don't think so, without conceding that this is, through and through, witlessly-designed fashion porn that features a whole army of Carrie Bradshaw closet-sized over-indulgent money shots.
He Said (Kersten)
Nick, I think you’ve got the right idea here. There’s little, if anything, to laugh at and certainly nothing that I found even remotely emotionally involving. That being said, it’s one of those instances where I avoid the terms “mad” or “upset”. Like any mother will tell their ill-behaving child, I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. Disappointed that I spent my time and others will spend their hard-earned money. Still, it’s not like that’s anything new.
But it’s the sting of this ill-fated tale of paradise lost for me. I felt duped. I went in after being promised a good time and hoping for something at least semi-bearable. Somewhere along the way, it feels like Michael Patrick King and company recalled the success of their TV series more than anything else. The show was a bright, funny, and inventive characterization of these complex New York women. Since the show did all the work in giving us these characters, there’s no real incentive to make them likeable or interesting for the movie. What results are cookie-cutter characters of the worst type, decked out in flamboyant fashion that would even make Liberace want to set himself on fire.