Glittery heels, dune buggies and casual racism: a summary of SATC2.
Over the bank holiday weekend, a friend suggested we go to watch Sex & The City 2 at the cinema. Initially, the idea of it made me throw up in my mouth a little bit – especially as said friend was a man – but after recalling the amount of comedy material that the first one gave us to complain about I thought it might be worth a hoot. As they say.
The tickets that we got for the screening allowed us to sit in the very cosy “VIP box” which had enough space for around 20-30 people and gave us access to our very own bar. I have to admit, if it weren’t for the fact that I made it through the equivalent of a bottle of wine during the film, I don’t think I’d have found it anywhere near as enjoyable.
So the film starts off, and takes the viewer through the journey of how the protagonist, Carrie Bradshaw (like you didn’t know), came to meet the other main characters. There’s that dark-haired one, which she met… somehow, and then there’s the slaggy one that she met at a cocktail bar, and there’s a redhead… yeah, I don’t remember much about that. Much to my pleasure, in the opening sequence, the “modern-day” Carrie was wearing similar shoes to the beastly pair I’d procured in Primark for £12 about half an hour previously, which made me “woop” slightly unceremoniously and request a high-five from the person opposite. That was probably my highlight of the entire movie.
So it continues on, and Carrie Bradshaw is now married to Mr. Big (the smarmier, American version of Nick Griffin, without the paunch or the bonk-eye) and the baldy gay friend is about to marry another of her gay friends. Carrie & Big have sex beforehand, to show the viewer that they are happy in their relationship, but thankfully the camera cuts away at this point and spares us the anguish of another awkward “bed” scene akin to those featured in the series, where SJP wears her bra at all times and looks slightly nauseous throughout. Then we have the gay wedding set in the countryside, and what would a glamorous cosmopolitan socialite and her gaggle of sows do without a gay wedding or two?
But this is no ordinary gay wedding: this is a New York gay wedding. There are swans, chorus boys in silver glittery hats, black marble floors reminiscent of an old Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movie and Liza Minnelli to carry out the ceremony. Yes, you heard right. Liza Minnelli marries them.
I was a bit saddened by this cameo, as Minnelli is clearly not shining as bright these days and is now having to make her money the David Hasselhoff way. Her cheeky one-liners about her own broken marriages felt very rehearsed and were ultimately pretty cheap shots on the part of the writers, and following it up with a cover of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” for the first dance made me feel slightly ill. Watching a woman of sixty-four parade around in hotpants and do a “booty giggle” doesn’t do it for me; I’d be surprised if it did it for any gay man either.
I don’t intend to go through the film in this much detail (to be frank because I spent a large amount of it necking house whites and ordering follow ups) but thought that kind of summed up the whole film for me. Something that views itself as glamorous, sophisticated and exciting, when actually it’s slightly farcical and ultimately a bit disheartening.
So, anyway, all these glamorous women look like they have it easy, but really they have PROBLEMS. Yep, it’s caps lock time. These are genuine, real world problems to prove to everyone that even women in pretty dresses have it hard sometimes. WOMAN POWER, etc.
The dark-haired one (Charlotte? Is it Charlotte? I’m going with Charlotte…) is in the midst of motherhood and realises finally that all those women who say it’s not easy kind of have a point. Despite the fact that she has a full-time nanny, her adopted Asian children are horrid and it still proves too much for her. “How do the women without help do it?!” she cries to her friends, drowning in her Tiffany jewellery. I love that line – the idea of “help” very much in a colonial Victorian sense. Charlotte’s “help” comes in the form of an “Irish” Messenger-a-like with no bra, whom she starts to feel concerns for following the girls’ (are they girls? I mean, come on…) comments that there should be a law against hiring women that hot to look after your children (“hurgh, the JUDE Law” Carrie guffaws into her latte).
Then there’s the ginger one, Miranda, who is having a hard time from her boss and doesn’t get to go to her ginger son’s science fair. Oh no! But it’s OK because she quits because being a mother is more important. And that.
Then there’s the other blonde one who isn’t Sarah Jessica Parker. She’s discovered the secret to looking young in smearing some hormones all over her dry, wrinkled body (you get to watch her apply it to her withered vulva at one point, in a glass office because she is a LIBERAL WOMAN). But that’s not really a problem. Oh well.
And then you’ve got Carrie. She’s busy – having spent the entire TV show and most of the last movie pathetically chasing after Mr. Big – lamenting the fact that married life isn’t always one big cocktail party and dislikes the fact that he has to work for a living and occasionally likes to get a takeaway rather than eat out (life is hard). How these characters aren’t enormous by now with the excessive drinking and eating out is a miracle.
The marital unhappiness culminates in the ultimate sin when Mr. Big buys Carrie a TV for the bedroom, so that she can watch black and white movies. She is appalled at the prospect (Carrie dude: WTF it’s a TV, that’s awesome) and would have prefered more jewellery or maybe a pony. Oh well. Her malcontent of being “somewhere between wild sex and a baby” puts a downer on things and they decide to spend two days a week apart so that he can eat Chinese takeaway and watch TV and she can wobble around Manhattan spending all his money and feeling like she’s 29 again. Done. Sensible compromise?
But Carrie spends the majority of the film mulling over this decision, pulling a series of sour expressions and reciting a series of internal monologues about making up your own rules in a relationship. Eventually the phrase “just us two” gets so repetitive that you stop noticing it. And then it starts to sound funny, in the same way that when you say a mundane word over and over again it loses its meaning and turns into a comedic string of vowels. Voweeeels. Vooowells.
So, to skip a large part of the film, the slaggy one gets some sort of work contract for a Sheikh in Abu Dhabi and takes her “three best girls” along with her for shits and giggles. Nothing is too much trouble for the hotel staff, and the silly disrespectful women get their own butler and Maybach each at their convenience. How nice. In fact, the only line in the whole film that even attempts humour is when the ginger one gawkily gets into the car and says something about “Abu Dhabi doo”. It garnered a titter at best after a couple of glasses of wine, hardly a ROFL, but it meant that the makers can legitimately class it as a romantic comedy. That and the bit where Samantha declares some dude as “Lawrence of My Labia” which also is FUNNY. Like Arabia, but with genitals. GET IT!?
As time passes in Abu Dhabi, the women come to terms with their PROBLEMS and learn that life is beautiful and all that. Charlotte stops worrying about the braless, sexually attractive nanny; Carrie learns from a wise, kindly butler that time apart from a spouse doesn’t mean that you love each other less; Miranda doesn’t learn much but she’s just a token character anyway so it doesn’t matter. Most importantly, Samantha learns that publicly snogging a man in a country where public snogging is disrespectful gets you kicked out of Abu Dhabi. Take that, feminism.
But why just accept that some people find lewd American sexualisation distasteful when you can turn it into a kickass Hollywood ending? As the four sexually liberal American women are escaping the markets of Abu Dhabi, a lady in a burka leads them down from the street into a special room with other veiled women. It is there that the women of Abu Dhabi reveal to them that they too are vapid, fashion-sensitive mongs. Let’s hear three cheers for Westernisation! It could only have been better if they’d been drinking a Bud Light and eating hot dogs. Oh, wait…
While I may have sounded a little harsh about this film, it’s really not THAT bad. While it is horribly ignorant, dismissive and rude about anything else other than the vapid and largely unattainable American lifestyle it promotes, it at least provides a bit of light entertainment. I mean, it could be worse: you could be watching “Epic Movie”.