Sex & The City 2
Sparkle, it’s what we keep hearing about in this utterly insulting exercise in marketing. Obsessed with maintaining it within their relationships after getting everything they ever wanted, we learn that these woman are never happy and become their own worst enemies in the process.
Carrie’s (Sarah Jessica Parker) marriage with Mr. Big (Chris Noth) has lost that very same thing, her being so terrified at the commitment she once begged for that she will make an issue of the smallest thing to stop herself from enjoying it. Worse still she’s not alone, every other woman in the piece is reduced to a glittering stereotype of mass consumerism where they are entirely defined by what they wear or whatever it is that can validate them now (so much so that Charlotte finds the need to wear vintage designer around two young children and rebukes them for getting it dirty, Carrie opining the loss of it akin to a death).
The original series, despite its musings on men and sex was at least for me, primarily concerned with friendship. These women did not have to be defined by convention but made their own rules, never having to settle or compromise their integrity. Yet now with everything in hand and supposedly complete, they only have the superfluous left to fret over.
“Isnt she a bit old for that?” they ask repeatedly, the answer of course being yes they are, and have no idea how to grow old with even the de minimus level of grace. So much so that Samantha, always known for her uncompromising sexuality when exported to the UAE becomes a poster child for intolerance, refusing to coform to the basic request of her ludicrously inviting hosts. Are these rules outdated and preposterous? Absolutely, but her complete lack of respect is far from humbling, making am entire culture and way of life into slapstick, something to be derided in its entirety.
Even more confusingly, the writer/director Michael Patrick King seems satisfied to include a verse of “I Am Woman”, the central characters helping to ease oppression in their small act of affirmation. Apologies, but if they speak for feminity in Western culture, we need a serious rethink also.
Samantha is merely symptomatic of a larger problem however, with King apparently at a loss as to how to confront their ever increasing age. Innevitably to avoid dealing with how four New York women imbrace it, he has them transported into a fairytale location where they instead refuse to acknowledge it, whilst at the same time illustrating how time has not been kind to them. Such behaviour might be relatable to a teenager but these are grown women, unwilling to accept that which they are not accustomed to whilst feigning open-mindedness.
Needless to say, no one escapes from this drivel without some insult being leveled against them. A gay wedding that opens the piece reduces both its subjects and guests to stereotype, complete with a nausia inducing performance of “Single Ladies” by Liza Minelli and equally as gaudy a production. This isn’t helped either by the large amount of gay themed jokes thrown about with little concern for how they should be perceived, an worrying development from an openly gay man writing such nonsense.
Even with such a change of scenery, the story is a crutch, a basis for product placement and demonstrations of costume designer Patricia Field’s skill at constructing. Old characters, outfits and emotions resurface one after another, giving the audience what they believe themselves to need but no amount of these can equate to a simple story well written and well acted, showing cracks early on that only grow exponentially in size. After all, there is only so much you can shine even the most precious of metals before it losses its shine and stories that are perpetually being given a finite ending suffer from even greater diminishing returns. King tries without any success to reintroduce tensions into the plot but it is nothing short of artificial, or at least from a character perspective entirely selfish and moronic.
Even the comedic timing and honesty of before has been replaced with fakery and obnoxiously sexually driven content.
Issue such as the recession are ignored almost entirely except for an occasional mention, if only to put forward the ridiculous notion that these characters live on the same planet as us. This eventually works against them as with every utterance the women become more and more resolute that it will have no effect on them, going out of their way to ignore its existence. To them it is a state of mind, an irritation brought about by anyone other than themselves, despite their behaviour being indicative of what brought it about in the fist place.
As I walked out of the cinema screen incensed by the needless, vapid revisiting of a concept I once held dear, there existed row upon row of women, ranging wildly in age in demographics. The more I looked, the sadder I became, realizing that for those who were not old enough to see it when it originally aired will believe this is what it was about. God forbid, they might even take it seriously, something that will no doubt damage the cultural significance of the original series in the long term.