(out of 5)
The girls are back and, quite frankly, they’re beating a dead horse: it’s not so much that it’s a terrible movie, it’s just the wrong movie. A cheesy karaoke number in the middle of the virtually non-existent plotline makes you realize that this film is actually more an adaptation of The Love Boat than anything Darren Star ever created for HBO. Now that Carrie and Mr. Big have finally tied the knot, she finds herself worried that the sparkle is already fading after two years of marriage. He suggests that they spend more time apart, a notion that sets off alarm bells in her mind, but she takes the opportunity to try it out when Samantha invites her, Charlotte and Miranda on a business trip to Abu Dhabi: Samantha has charmed the owner of a posh resort and he wants her and the girls to enjoy free first class accommodations in an effort to promote the place as a tourist destination for rich Americans. Upon arrival, the girls are horrified to discover that the women of the land are forced to cover themselves from head to toe; the inability to access fashion is cause for Carrie Bradshaw to look up the phone number for Amnesty International since, let’s face it, it’s an important global issue. She spends her time there chatting up her personal manservant while whining about her husband, all the while Charlotte is terrified that she has left her husband Harry home alone with their sexy, bra-less Irish nanny and, fearful that he is being unfaithful, spends the entire film trying to call him. Other than that there’s really not much to this disaster except for the advertising opportunities presented by the orgy of clothing and shoes that the girls whip out every second in a non-existent plotline that spreads what should have been a half-hour episode over a nearly three hour movie. While the last one can be criticized for feeling like it was making itself up as it went along, this one can’t even be accused of making anything up, it mostly just rambles in place with nowhere to go (except shopping or on vacations). Michael Patrick King has been writing for these ladies for a long time, and for the most part he seems to have forgotten all of their strengths; Carrie’s witticisms are meagre, Miranda’s constant Type A frustration is relegated to her chirpy bossiness as their unofficial tour guide and Charlotte’s brilliantly subtle emotional command doesn’t show itself often enough (though a scene where she gets drunk and is unable to give Carrie sound advice about yet another relationship crisis with Big is beautifully achieved). Only Samantha is given her full due, which when considering the amount of punishment heaped upon her in the last film is only fair. Kim Cattrall is fully up to the fun this time, battling menopause with all her faculties intact, but she’s also utilized to demonstrate the film’s offensively smug attitude towards sex in the Middle East: just so you know, Samantha, people get arrested for having sex in public in America too, so enough with the finger pointing. Having Miranda walk around learning Arabic phrases and customs does not offset the disturbing undercurrent of racism in this film (the women have to lift their veils to eat french fries!), and having Liza perform an embarrassing musical number in an early scene does not make up for the fact that a once-elegant show about the constant, lightning-bolt possibilities of friendship and love in New York City has now become an simplistic three hour commercial to get airheaded twenty year-old girls to rack up their credit cards. It’s wonderful that a film about women older than 30 gets this kind of attention at the box office on opening weekend, but it’s a shame that it has to stoop to these depths to guarantee its financial appeal to young people. A cameo by a very graceful Penelope Cruz is the film’s most elegant moment.
New Line Cinema, Home Box Office, HBO Films, Village Roadshow Pictures
Directed by Michael Patrick King
Cinematography by John Thomas
Music by Aaron Zigman
Production Design by Jeremy Conway
Film Editing by Michael Berenbaum