Sex and the City 2 isn’t funny.
That’s not a surprise. The television show was never funny, either. As comedy, it was always for those women with a sense of humor commensurate with Samantha’s sexual appetites, i.e. the easy lay.
The show’s value, as it was, arrived by giving young women across the nation a vicarious fantasy life in New York City. Podunk princesses could tune into HBO and live out fantasies of glamorous faraway lives. Also, each character provided its audience a definable shorthand for their own sexual energies. Women could describe a friend as being a Charlotte or a Samantha and know exactly what each meant.
Mainly, Sex and the City was about being at a certain place in a certain age – the New York of millennial opulence and optimism. As we watch the aging four women now, the characters are insufficiently aware, as we are, that that time and place is no longer there. The fantasy has melted into nostalgia – a silent plea for the way we were, not the way we should be.
The second movie, after the 2008 summer hit, heads directly into menopause. It is no longer the fantasy of young vibrance. It is more the nagging dream of middle-age concerns – marriage, and hormone pills, and children. Essentially, Sex and the City has lost its sex drive. Except for a pair of Samantha’s brief backside adventures , it’s entirely sexless. And once the girls leave New York for the United Arab Emirates – no, really – you can say so long to the city. The harder it becomes to tastefully make a feel-good movie about overindulgence in America, the more likely you are to see these chicks on the road.
As they sashay into the desert and unwittingly into history, they coo. And coo. And coo some more. Yet their concerns never vanish – gold-plated palaces cannot guarantee happiness or light entertainment. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) worries about becoming a boring married couple when Big (Chris Noth) buys a bedroom television. Charlotte (Kristin Davis) frets about leaving her husband with their springy-breasted nanny. Samantha predictably gets arrested, briefly, for violations of strict Muslim sexual prohibitions. If only they could put someone away for soft-headed sexual puns, instead. Oh, and Miranda appears.
The film begins with a very camp gay wedding, fully decked out with a choir. And swans. And Liza Minnelli. It ends with a vaguely offensive moment, with Muslim women disrobing their traditional clothing to reveal the latest high fashion hidden underneath. Two cultures stare into each others’ mutual shallowness. Everyone wants to live in New York. Soulless fantasies, the film suggests, are a worldwide notion.