Well as you'd gathered I went to see it yesterday - it was only a matter of time before I succumbed to the hype ... After reading a barrage of damning criticisms that said it was a travesty of the original show; that it was like seeing old friends being murdered in front of you; etc etc, I've got to say that I think a lot of people have actually been pretty damn harsh. There was a lot to appreciate and enjoy about SATC2 and I've seen far, far worse!
Yes, so they've pretty much exhausted the SATC franchise now and it's hard to envisage where else they could take the characters. The last SATC movie brought things to what I thought was a logical conclusion with a happy ending for everyone. However in the fictional world of romance and relationships, happiness is never eternal and so the writers have clearly contrived further ways to wring out even more drama. This they've managed to do fairly convincingly, but I really do think this should be the last outing for Carrie and the gals now. Of course one can't help surmising that one of the reasons SATC2 got made was because the four actresses couldn't get (much) work elsewhere (particularly Cynthia Nixon, Kim Cattrall and Kristin Davis - has anyone seen them in anything else post SATC?? Nothing I can think of...) Or am I just being a bit cynical and bitchy here?
In case you weren't aware, the main focus of the new movie is on the four lead gals taking an impromptu trip to Abu Dhabi - Samantha receives an all-expenses-paid invitation there as part of her job and decides her pals just have to come with her. That's about halfway through the film though - up until that it's the normal SATC shenanigans and we see where the four friends are at in their lives since the events of the last movie. Samantha is now 52 and trying to keep her libido with hormones alive while dealing with menopause; Charlotte's two children are a handful and she's worried that husband Harry is attracted to their nanny; Miranda is battling with a boss who doesn't like strong and independent women and Carrie's marriage to Mr Big has settled down, though they differ on how to spend their spare time: she always wants to go out, he would prefer to stay home and watch television some evenings. Whilst none of this is exactly ground-breaking stuff and the "plot" as it were meanders along at a fairly non-urgent pace, it's still done decently enough, and I should add, better than your average Jennifer Anuston, I mean Aniston, type rom-com piece of fluff.
The Carrie/Big stuff probably rings true for a lot of people who are a few years down the line in established relationships - marriage isn't always a bed of roses and couples do have their differences even when they're "settled" - a situation which is convincingly conveyed / acted by Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Noth. Later on there's an even bigger challenge to Carrie's marriage in the form of ex lover Aiden who Carrie happens to run into in Abu Dubai, and who she snogs, leading to typical SATC angsty-type stuff. Rather too convenient and again contrived, but then, where would the drama be without it?
Sarah Jessica Parker is as good as ever and I love her philosophising voice over bits, a hallmark from the original series that still works. She is looking a bit haggard and drawn now though (okay the claws are coming out again now) - sometimes I can't work out if SJP is attractive or not. I've always liked her unconventional, off the wall ways but looks wise she is definitely, erm, different. Dazzling smile though! It also has to be said that she and the other gals still look incredibly well groomed and gorgeous in a variety of swish outfits and hairstyles. Kim Cattrall continues to imbue Samantha with her usual brand of sophisticated sluttishness, giving hope to all women in their 50s (well Joan Collins did it as Alexis back in the 80s I suppose, just not so, erm, overtly). Samantha gets the usual batch of rude but funny lines which I searched the net for and couldn't find, owing to the fact that I've forgotten what they were. (In fact the general dialogue in SATC2 is still of the witty, sharp and observational variety, which went quite some way towards putting the film in my favour). Kristin Davis is okay as Charlotte (she was never my favourite character) and I couldn't help laughing when her young daughter shoves two hands covered in red paint all over her white "vintage" trousers. Miranda's brittle persona seemed to have mellowed since last time and I felt she was side-lined a bit - the potentially interesting plot line about her sexist boss was only given brief attention.
Then there's the trip to Abu Dhabi which as I said occupies at least half of the narrative. There's already been tons of comments about this aspect of the movie, mainly centred around its "racist" and stereotypical portrayal of Middle Eastern culture. Wellll....firstly this has to be one of the first times the action is focused somewhere other than New York and admittedly that is rather strange. I wouldn't say the portrayal of the Emirates is particularly offensive, but then again there's nothing very enlightening about all of it. There's potential for an interesting storyline here - the culture in Adu Dhabi forbids public displays of affection between men and women, and as for open displays of sex - well you can guess who lands herself in trouble because of that one. Bar this and another very funny scene where Samantha screams at Muslim men that she does have sex and then throws lots of condoms into the air, the whole patriarchal culture of the Middle East is dealt with very uncritically - a missed opportunity given the liberated attitudes of those SATC girls and the resultant culture clashes - I'm sure Carrie could have dedicated a lot of column space to writing about that. There's also a rather bizarre scene in which a group of burkha clad Abu Dhabi women tell the NYC gals that they love fashion and labels and then - gasp! - reveal designer clothes underneath their robes. Making a "point" in a rather forced and corny way really.
Other stuff: I did like the gay wedding (Stanford and that vile queen Anthony) at the beginning, and Big's reactions were amusing, not to mention the presence of Liza Minnelli doing "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" - though her singing voice is sadly way past its prime.
So, by no means a disaster, more a visual and oral meringue - sophisticated, sweet and gorgeous to consume, but not particularly substantial or good for one's health either. Having said that, I've always been the indulgent type and I can't resist sweet tasting things. Ultimately though, I still think it's time Carrie put her manolas to bed once and for all and we were left to imagine what happens to the SATC girls from this point on... Happy Ever After for good, surely.
3 out of 5.