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Movies: Sex and the City's "Terrible Twos"

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GuestbloggerNATHANIEL ROGERS
...prefers air conditioned movie theaters to hot beaches in the summer. He blogs daily at the Film Experience.


YOUR FEATURE PRESENTATION
Sometimes we're our own worst enemies. Sex & The City, the ginormously popular HBO sitcom understood this. Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), the heroine of the whole enterprise, was the worst offender. She bought shoes when she needed to pay rent. She cheated on her boyfriends. She broadcast her business to the world when she would have been better off keeping her mouth sh -- oh, uh, yes, job hazard as a sex and relationship columnist. Mr. Big (Chris Noth) was also skilled in the art of self sabotage, continually pushing his perfect girl (Carrie, duh!) away when she needed to be pulled close. He perfected this dynamic in the first movie's act one climax by leaving her at the altar. Ouch. Two year old spoiler alert: They got back together and married in the end.

Now the Fab Four (Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte) are back. They've mostly settled down so SEX AND THE CITY 2 will pick up the baton and practice the fine art of self sabotage on itself.

The Big Gay Wedding prologue is surely meant as a tribute to the devoted gay fanbase but as such it's a strangely tone deaf affair and a misfire. The familiar term "The Terrible Twos" is first deployed the next morning to describe Charlotte's continually screaming toddler. Soon Carrie has hijacked it for an article on the bed death of her young marriage. This neatly lays down the plot conflict. You can't help but wonder if Carrie and Big will regain their sparkle. But really?!? The Terrible Twos? Oh Sex & the City 2, you foolish, foolish lady. You're making it too easy for the haters! The pans will all but write themselves.

So, what are Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) drinking to?

More, AFTER THE JUMP...

Charlotte_and_miranda 

Paychecks, no doubt. It can't be to the screenplay.

In a rare quiet and mostly funny moment, which actually gives the two actresses good stuff to play, they're also shoved into a moment of inelegant self-awareness. Why is Michael Patrick King asking our girls to all but break the fourth wall to raise a glass to women who can't afford their lifestyles? It's both a dangling carrot (you want this!) and a pandering hug (we worship your poor-as-dirt asses!) for the fans.

Part of the problem with all of this is scale. The big screen is a different mistress than television. If you want to get specific she's more of a Samantha than a Charlotte. She's ravenous. It makes total sense that Sex & The City went bigger for the first film: more fashions, increased label lust, multiple break-up dramas.

Carrie_and_bigThings have ballooned out of control. Sex & the City 2 is a shameless size queen. The movie forgets that the strength of the franchise is in the small tossed off jokes, interpersonal observations and visual style as decor, not subject matter. Seeing Carrie in an old dress from the series, a brief 80s fashion flashback, Miranda's testiness in a business meeting, the frosty reaction Carrie gets from a judgmental fan, our heroine's glee over a surprisingly cheap pair of shoes... these are all way more entertaining than gaudy multi-million dollar weddings and garish karaoke performances.

Carrie and Big may have downsized their home but the sequel doesn't follow suit. Even the oft ridiculed but actually brilliant costuming and art direction that were on display in the first film seem to be more haphazardly applied. It's put-everything-on-screen! fever. The new film tries at every moment to supersize: bigger star cameos, bigger setpieces, and bigger locales. Last time the girls just went to Mexico but this time, only a $22,000 a night suite in Abu Dhabi with four round-the-clock butlers will do. What's wrong with hanging out with New York City, the fifth girl? The new locale only throws the franchise's worst habits into sharp relief. Offensive caricatures, broad comedy, and tired materialism coming your way.

But all marriages have rough patches. These girls have been married to pop culture for over a decade now. This union has survived endless vicious scrutiny and even, miraculously, the groom's obvious preference for younger women. Forgive them this sequel and hope that the sparkle returns for Sex & The City 3.


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Comments

  1. This pan is the kindest review I've read of the movie so far, and that's saying something.

    Posted by: John | May 28, 2010 9:25:22 AM


  2. John -- i'll bet. I get so tired of people taking potshots at the series and only showing their own issues in the process (misogyny, ageism, you name it).

    It's hilarious to me that people think Iron Mans materialism and vanity are so funny/enjoyable/charismatic but they think the same character traits are DISGUSTING in older women.

    But sadly this movie isn't very good :(

    Posted by: Nathaniel R | May 28, 2010 9:44:17 AM


  3. I don't care. I'm seeing it tonight with my best fag hag (BFH)! And you're right John. This is the kindest slap in the face I've read for this movie.

    But it doesn't matter! I for one cannot WAIT to hear Samantha say: "Laurence of my labia!" That line is so goddamned ridiculous that I'll laugh regardless. Also the ri-goddamned-diculousness of watching Liza (with a Z, bitches!) performing "Single Ladies" will have me laughing regardless.

    On a serious note thank you to SATC2 for giving a over-the-top thank you to all us gays who have adored this series since day 1 by marrying off the two main gays of the series.

    Posted by: Stephen | May 28, 2010 9:55:28 AM


  4. You know what? I read the reviews- loved the series- went in with zero expectations expecting the series to be ruined for me and actually had a good time. Is it a popcorn caper movie? yes. Does it match the series weight and heft? No. Is it possibly one of the gayest( READ- camp escapism, enjoyment, absurd over the top) movies I have seen in quite awhile? INDEED! I don't think it sets out to be anything more than it is. Now, is it a great movie? No, I don't tihnk so.Sloppy writing, loose ends- not enough John Corbett. The series, and in effect SATC itself, ended six years ago. The movies are a different animal all together. There is, in my opinion, fun to be had.

    Posted by: Chris | May 28, 2010 11:25:48 AM


  5. I went to see this last night - and have to say I am not sure where all the negative criticism is coming from - or what it is really about - I am a fan - and yes, I got totally lost in it - and not once in the 2 1/2 hours did I look at my watch - which is pretty amazing - if anything - I liked it a better than the first which was so dominated by the tsunami of the canceled wedding.

    Regarding specific criticisms - really, what did anyone expect for the wedding of Sanford and Anthony - a ceremony at Big Sur? Hawaii? A leather bar? An elopement? Frankly, considering some of the weddings I have been to it was small in scale.

    And the trip - leave it to Michael Patrick King to find a way to brilliantly demonstrate that in life - things are not always what they seem - and beautiful clothes worn in opulent settings cannot change willful ignorance, darkness, and brutality. This is more than just a trip to the Middle East - it is what their stories are always about -- how can you be unhappy with gorgeous fashion and lives lived in beautiful places - but you can be unhappy - you can be terrified -- you can be unfulfilled -- and most importantly -- you can be vilified for simply being you.

    And these characters have ALWAYS been aware that in some respect they have it far better than their contemporaries -- and certainly better than the generations that went before them. One of the reasons for Charlotte and Amanda's angst is that - having it so much better due to their wealth and hired help - and still feeling overwhelmed - seems ungrateful - or ridiculous - but it is their truth nonetheless because money and help DO NOT MAKE A LIFE OR DEFINE A FAMILY -- AND IT SURE AS HELL DOES NOT DEFINE A WOMAN.

    I am waiting for the reviewer who cites the instances where the characters are doing something that rings untrue - or seems contrived or uncharacteristic. But there is none of that - this movie and these women are being criticized for who they are and who they have always been.

    Posted by: ricky | May 28, 2010 2:42:47 PM


  6. Sure hope you're under 25, ricky. But yeah, the stereotype is kinda accurate. There are a lot of your type in the gay community...I just wish there weren't so many.

    Posted by: TANK | May 28, 2010 2:48:28 PM


  7. Ms. Tank - Madam -- it seems like it has been forever since last I was exposed to your amazing and epic sexual dysfunction - and self-loathing -- really, your embrace of masculine archetypes that have never really existed except in the school-girl fantasies that you desperately need to define you and the men who will never want, nor hold, nor bother to even acknowledge you never ceases to amaze me - do you have a calendar - does it say 2010 - there are a lot of your type in America - our great shame and our great burden - cowardly, sniveling, pseudo-men -- and I too wish there were not so many.

    Posted by: ricky | May 28, 2010 3:46:21 PM


  8. I saw the film and think the review here is on target. By all means, see the film if you were a fan of the HBO comedy. There are some good scenes, but for most part the film is pretty long and tired.

    Posted by: MichaelJ | May 28, 2010 4:03:16 PM


  9. No, ladyboy, I am not criticizing you for being effeminate. That's not a problem for me...straight acting, or any kind of acting when a camera's not rolling is what I have a big problem with. So I take just as much offense at gay guys who pretend to be "butch" (which is always over the top, and funny to behold) as I do gay men who, right after they come out, a purse magically falls out of their mouth (and they mellow with age...like boone's farm). No, it's any act...to type. And you are acting to type by falling into this ghettoized gay male de rigueur.

    Instead, ricky, I'm criticizing you for having no taste. There are a lot of plastic people who really do enjoy subpar products within the gay community...and it's lamentable. Uninteresting clones. Sex and the city is unendurable dreck, and it's not a matter of my taste vs. your taste; you clearly have none. It's an annoying, uninspired vapid show that glorifies in perpetuating superficial stereotypes and one dimensional characters, peppered with cliche "life lessons"...now adapted for the second time in a botched abortion of celluloid toilet paper.

    Now run along and titter with your fag hags over some cheesecake or ben and jerry's, complaining about how fat you'll be in the morning, and what a bad, bad "girls" you're being. Just get the vagina surgery, because your balls fell off a long time ago. No justice.

    Posted by: TANK | May 28, 2010 4:04:13 PM


  10. Madam Tank - first, I am guessing you are fat - you fat girls always get the best nick names - Tank, Moose, Saturn. . . if you wish to criticize the movie then by all means do so - but no, this is not about the movie at all is it -- this is about your sad, desperate, pathetic need to be seen (which I suspect if you ever left your parent's basement would be all too easy) and to be heard (perhaps if you tried talking in a lower register) -- but your posts are never, I repeat, never, and once more since you seem - well s-l-o-w -- never about the topic - but always a personal attack on the poster who has somehow - as all men eventually do either through indifference or neglect - disappointed you.

    This may come as a surprise to you - as abs or manners no doubt do - but I nor anyone I have ever known nor anyone I can ever respect will look to you for matters regarding taste - your boorish posts never saying anything more than "look at me look at me look at me" tells me all I need to know about your imagined taste in matters of art and entertainment.

    Take your sad sorry story to a carnival midway where your size - and your personal style - will be welcomed.

    Posted by: ricky | May 28, 2010 4:30:49 PM


  11. It's hard to keep this all in perspective and remember that even the TV show was all over the map in terms of writing and plot lines. I won't see the movie, but can't help but notice the ads for $75.00 'Girls Night" tickets have all sold out for this film.
    I'll always be grateful to Sex and The City--a good friend loaned me the first 4 seasons right after Bush was re-elected and I sat in a dark room and played them over and over again....that being said? I stopped watching back when Carrie could have gone with the guy who made her better (Aiden) but picked the guy she probably deserved (Mr. Big)...
    But this movie is just a fluffy love letter to the fans I've never understood--the ones who didn't mind when evey other episode jumped the shark, then pulled you back in again. Those loyal fans will show up in droves and it will make money. Expensive fluffy money.

    Posted by: Donny with a "D" | May 28, 2010 4:32:02 PM


  12. Really, ricky? Is that the best you can do when someone levels a sober gaze in your assessment? call them fat loser(I'm not fat, and my nickname has nothin' to do with my physical appearance...LOL!)? I may not be an underwear model, but it's my right as a male to point out the physical imperfections of others while taking neither stock nor accountability of my own.

    But seriously, you actually enjoyed this movie, and defended it. Oy gevalt.

    Posted by: TANK | May 28, 2010 4:45:34 PM


  13. Madam Tink - You consider your gaze to be sober - based on what drunken gropings did you arrive at this conclusion - you open a thread about a movie you have no intention of seeing about a franchise you do not like to do what exactly - be enlightened - educated -- no, you open this thread to take cheap - intellectually dishonest - pathetic shots at those who have seen the movie and having spent their hard-earned money - choose to comment on it -- and you imagine your gaze to be a sober one?

    Yes, Madam - I enjoyed this movie - and I will continue to defend it - especially against ignorance disguised as commentary such as yours.

    I am not calling them a fat loser - if anyone has seen the movie and commented negatively that is their right just as it is mine to disagree - I am, however, calling you a fat loser - and I stand by that.

    Good day to you Madam - we are done.

    Posted by: Ricky | May 28, 2010 5:57:34 PM


  14. "I enjoyed this movie - and I will continue to defend it"

    And (re: that I wouldn't),

    "tells me all I need to know about your imagined taste in matters of art and entertainment."

    Are you sure? Because people without taste (you) never realize that they don't have it. So it tells you that you suck and aren't funny, too? Oh yes, it was a sober assessment, and your praise of trash is sobering. You are defending a movie (which you actually LIKED) that movie critics across the country, if not world are literally tripping overselves to one up the previous reviewer in trashing. it's a game at this point. A GAME. And you liked it.

    Posted by: TANK | May 28, 2010 6:21:49 PM


  15. Madam Tink - I believe I said good day to you woman - good day. . . and my good woman - you may look to other to tell you what to think - tee hee - see what I did there -- I said may - but I do not now - nor ever - need to look to someone else to tell me what to think ABOUT A MOVIE I PAID GOOD MONEY TO SEE -- I don't need to be told - as clearly you do my increasingly stupid flower - WHAT TO THINK ABOUT A MOVIE I HAVE SEEN.

    Now Madamn - again, since you are clearly stupid - we are done - done I say - take your baubles and bangles and beads and go bother some one else. Be gone good woman.

    Posted by: Ricky | May 28, 2010 6:51:02 PM


  16. And do you know why, pricky? Why it is that critics across the globe have been desperately trying to outpan each other when it comes to this dirty diaper? It's because they know that they could never live down the shame of being perceived as disliking this movie less than someone else. It would be more traumatic and cause more damage than, as a child, being locked in a confessional with a horny priest. And just think of their families if such a thing were to be realized! They'd have to change their names and relocate, but even then...no, suicide is still not comparable, for many would prefer it to the nasty job of having to sift through the excrement of SITC 2...again...at seeing sjp's bare cellulite riddled arm...as she whinnies (an attempt at "seduction") toward the camera...and clop clop clops around eating hay and making manure.

    As to you, pricky, you obviously do need to be told...to go to hell, repeatedly...and that silverware is for eating, not picking your teeth afterward.

    Posted by: TANK | May 28, 2010 7:06:23 PM


  17. Madam Tink - Crawl on your knees after the critics if you must - I suspect walking upright is not something your lineage has long known - grovel away - but again, my stupid stupid girl - I have seen the movie - and posted my thoughts - HAVING SEEN THE MOVIE - you have NOT seen the movie - you do NOT plan to see the movie - so your thoughts regarding the movie - much like your personal attack on SJP - are based - like so much else in your life - ON NOTHING. You continue to try to tell me what to think about a movie I HAVE SEEN.

    Tell me - as you crawl after strangers asking what you should think - what is it that makes you a man - the stupidity, the pathetic need, the cowardice to form you own opinion -- what in God's name makes you a man - or do you have to ask someone else for the answer?

    Good day woman.

    Posted by: Ricky | May 28, 2010 7:51:48 PM


  18. @pricky

    that'll do, pig, that'll do.

    Posted by: TANK | May 28, 2010 9:07:53 PM


  19. Tink - Yes, as this day draws to a close - as the sun sets here in LA - it is perhaps the truest moment of the day - when you imagine that a quote from the movie Babe - and nothing more - makes your argument and will suffice as a withering retort.

    And so it is really just that simple - Sex and the City is lost on you as are pearls before swine.

    Save your Babe quotes for the bedroom Madam.

    Posted by: Ricky | May 28, 2010 9:59:22 PM


  20. Yes, pricky, the ecstacy of sex and the city 2 shall forever elude me. It haunts me...that I lack the sophistication to partake of that simple pleasure...haunts me...the vacancy of that depth of refinement leaves the echo of regret, an eternal reminder of the boundaries of my soul. You swine. You common swine.

    Posted by: TANK | May 29, 2010 2:29:44 AM


  21. "On a serious note thank you to SATC2 for giving a over-the-top thank you to all us gays who have adored this series since day 1 by marrying off the two main gays of the series"

    But they HATED one another (Stanford is way too good for Anthony). It's an insult to the (ex-)fans to marry them off. Would they marry Samantha and Aidan just because they're straight?

    Posted by: parker | May 29, 2010 3:50:18 AM


  22. Parker, what is more upsetting is that they wrote that Anthony is allowed to cheat creating this idea that gay people don't respect the vow of marriage. I understand that some gay couples have open relationships, but that doesn't mean all do. There are many heterosexual couples that swing or have open relationships yet it isn't an issue. Why would Michael Patrick King allow such bad writing. I am a big fan of the series and was just disgusted with this 2 1/2 hour long $10 million dollar fashion show. I'm sorry girls, not all of us can fly 6,200 miles first class and make it seem like going coach is the worst thing ever.

    Posted by: Martin | May 29, 2010 4:47:59 AM


  23. hated the first movie, LOVED the second one!! it is light hearted and it reminded me of what the actual series was all about...the girls having a good time, this time abroad...in the series in NY.

    with that said, I hope there isn't a SATC3. they jumped the shark halfway through the 6th season, and at this point...this would be a perfect way to end the whole thing.

    Posted by: ventura | May 29, 2010 12:07:15 PM



  24. Am I the only Gay man on the planet who would (much) rather watch the remake of NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET than SATC 2?!

    Posted by: wirrrn | May 30, 2010 4:54:49 AM


  25. @ wirrrn

    no

    Posted by: flucht17 | May 30, 2010 6:34:55 PM


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