By JP Chapman | May 27, 2010
Director: Michael Patrick King
Writer: Michael Patrick King
Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Chris Noth, John Corbett, David Eigenberg, Evan Handler, Jason Lewis, Lynn Cohen, Raza Jaffrey, Penelope Cruz, Liza Minnelli, Miley Cyrus
*Disclaimer: now with updates!
It’s appropriate that the writer/producer of Sex and the City 2 “The Temple of Doom” went with a title that draws parallels between his film and those of the Indiana Jones saga. At this point in both franchises, the differences between the two are quickly thinning out. For starters, both films contain what appear to be 75+yr old lead characters navigating adventure/intrigue in exotic locales. Both films put a strong emphasis on the importance of handbags, or man-purses. And more importantly than any other similarity, both enormously successful film franchises culminate in the biggest cash grabs taking advantage of their loyal fans that I’ve seen in a looong time. The worst thing about this reality lies with a central fear: that unlike the jaded fans of Indy that walked out of Crystal Skull cursing the name Lucas, the fans of Sex and the City will eat this film up with enormous grins, all the while going back for more.
Sex and the City 2: The Temple of Doom starts back up where Sex and the City: Raiders of the HBO TV Series left off. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Mr. Big (Chris Noth) have settled into domestic bliss in a new apartment as Carrie’s new book about marriage is about to be released. Despite enjoying what appears to be an affluent dream life, Carrie is restless. Her best friends Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) are busy with children and home life, while 80 year old Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is busy fighting off menopause with a $100,000+/day addiction to lotions, moisturizers and supplements. Things get ugly from a film-making standpoint almost from the get-go. A painful montage that has all 4 friends flashing back to their 80’s looks just struck me as uncomfortable. While these women have aged extremely well, they have really aged. And maybe women love this, but I find it very weird to see older women (and we’re talking wayyy past ‘cougar-old’) parading around in flashy outfits made for 19 yr olds. The movie does poke some fun at this notion as well, but it’s essentially the essence of Sex and City in many respects. So…they had to do something with it. Awkwardness continues as the wedding of Stanford (Willie Garson) and Anthony (Mario Cantone) yields some of the worst/most predictable dialogue I’ve seen since When In Rome. Possibly even worse than this bad dialogue though is a looming fear that begins to hit around this point: that writer Michael Patrick King has chosen not to deliver an interesting, well-written script. Rather, it would seem that he has taken the strategy of giving the fans exactly what they want, regardless of the consequences. Unfortunately, more often than not, fans don’t know what they want; and a sad, tired mess will be the onscreen result (and I’m referring to the movie, not Kim Cattrall).
Plot-wise, after the wedding, Samantha gets invited to Abu Dhabi via her PR firm to potentially help promote an Arab sheik’s new luxurious hotel. Carrie’s restlessness has morphed into “vacation” days of sorts away from marriage, and traveling sounds like the perfect idea to her. The same goes for Miranda and Charlotte who are struggling with maintaining sanity while still taking care of their kids. From this point on out, luxury is flaunted in full force. Ridiculous cars, first class airfare on a plane with private suites, and an insane hotel are all part of the story. However; the values and sensibilities of the New York girls don’t exactly clash with those of the conservative middle east and comedy ensues (wokka wokka!!). Seriously? This plot line? Really? This verged on racism for me….Anyways, Carrie tries to reassess what she really wants out of love/life after years of chasing after Mr. Big and finally getting what she thought she wanted.
Let’s get this straight. If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m not Sex and the City’s target market. However, I’m not too masculine to admit that the TV series was yet another well-written, enjoyable show in a long line of great shows that HBO has put out. Sex and the City 1 was even a valiant effort to transition this to the big screen. While many of the “cash grab” tendencies alluded to in part deux were present, they weren’t overwhelming. More importantly, the film actually advanced and added to who the characters were. The biggest disappointment in Sex and the City 2, is that it doesn’t even try this time around. This is a group of actresses and a writer that know their fan base to a fault. They can put as little effort as possible into story, acting, dialogue, etc. as long as they throw enough of the budget at crazy designer clothes and cameos of various celebrities and characters from the TV series. And the formula works. Fans of the series will watch this, and they will probably love it. And that my friends, is depressing…
Is this movie good? No. Will it make loads of money? Yes. Will they make another film? Probably. Sex and the City 2 is all Hollywood, and sadly for its fans has gone the route of just being another multi-million dollar paycheck to cash for its stars.
*Update (post reflection)
This review contains two seldom used concepts in America: “comedy” and “hyperbole”. The writer is well aware that Kim Cattrall is not 80 yrs old. He also knows that the ladies of Sex and the City look far better than he ever has/will (except for Kim Cattrall–he is way hotter than her). Finally, he is also aware that they are not “way past ‘cougar old”. Again…..comedy and hyperbole.
The fact of the matter is that this film was teased (as were it’s stars) because it should be an embarrassment to the cast/crew involved. The film is an insult to women in general, and is a step back for the cause of feminism. These are not empowered, happy women. These are miserable, spoiled, horrible people. I don’t understand how anyone could view this movie and not be disgusted by women complaining about how hard life is with a nanny, no job, and a multi-million dollar home/lifestyle while sipping cosmos in the first class lounge of a luxury jet. The rating of 3/10 is hereby lowered to 1/10. There is virtually nothing redeemable about this movie, and it only serves to harm women.
In regards to the racism mentioned, this movie is not borderline racist. It is blatantly racist and disrespectful of the middle eastern cultures represented. The mere scene of Samantha throwing her condoms in the face of conservative, religious men was terrible; not to mention the many other references demeaning the people groups represented.
In short, the jokes about ‘cougar-ness’, etc. are just that—jokes. This film is a slap in the face to its fan-base and womankind in general.