Sunday, January 23, 2011

"Worst" of the year: SEX AND THE CITY 2

I could have thought 'what were they thinking?', rhetorically of course, in making Sex and the City 2, but I already knew what I was getting into.  The best I could hope for was that my wife's warning words on the film, who wasn't a big fan of the show (like me) but could find it enjoyable and on occasion meaningful as social commentary (like me), weren't all true.  Nope.  It's a fucking mess.  The kind of Hollywood debacle that if it weren't called Sex and the City 2 and featuring its huge cadre of female (and gay male?) followers would be such a stink-bomb in the box office bombs of the year.  Because it's not really a movie that appeals to the public.  I don't know how anyone who is not living in big penthouses and nice NY apartments and then going off to big expensive (almost) all-expense-paid trips to rich exotic Arab countries and Big Gay Weddings with Liza Minelli can identify with ANY of this.  I'm reminded of that Warren Beatty bomb from a decade ago, Town and Country, which addressed the relationship concerns of people most of us couldn't give 1/10th of one (bleep) about.

And why is that this time?  As someone who can say he actually admired the show at times, the movie simply continues the pattern of the previous 2008 feature film, where writer/director/fashion-bleeper Michael Patrick King just takes all of the annoying and shallow and really stupid crap from the series and amplifies it while toning down the good qualities of the characters.  I would think that most sane-minded fans of the show would be upset at how much the four women (to round off like the Chipmunks: Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda) have kind of regressed in this movie.  And it's not just that the characters themselves, with one or two exceptions in a couple of scenes, come off as shrill and seemingly ignorant of their foolishness.  It's in the writing that Sex and the City 2 is cursed, as really inane malarky takes over (even more than in the first movie which had its share of gross-out gags and so-bad-they're-bad puns) and the conflicts just suck.  There's no better word to say than 'suck' really.  It sucks the life out of you as you watch and can do little but face-palm yourself about two dozen times.

Lawrence Suck-A-Far-Out-of-My-Twat.
Let's just run down some of these 'conflicts' the characters have, which is really the main thrust of the story in true Sitcom-Style: Charlotte has a nanny (the admittedly very, very, very hot Alice Eve) who doesn't wear a bra and thinks automatically that this means her Very Bald JewishTM husband is having an affair with her; Miranda has a, uh, boss who kinda not really sexually harasses her and so she quits and doesn't really find another job I guess(?); Samantha has her womanly parts (scuse me.. a CUNT) that she can't seem to get under control as she reaches the age of menopause and hot flashes; Carrie (oh this is the best I saved for last) can't stand that her husband, John James Preston aka Mr. Big, doesn't want to go out to big premiere parties on Monday nights and would rather (get this) stay snuggled in on the couch watching movies at night and eating in.  This last one should rankle most married couples, it certainly did me (personally, I can't think of anything more comforting than having a night in snuggled with my betrothed watching movies and TV shows, but then again my betrothed isn't a psycho bitch with bad hair, bad make-up and glittering shoes).

Unlike in, say, the first feature film where a character like Miranda had an actual conflict, albeit conventional, with a cheating husband, this time she (one of the more interesting albeit bitchy characters on the show) has little to do except act as fellow mother-bitchier to Charlotte over drinks.  And there's something about the way King handles the big conflict with Carrie and Big in this movie that almost, kinda, stinks of (unintentional?) misoginy.  This is a movie that ironically is meant primarily for women, but I couldn't think of another movie this year that treated women as single-minded, bullshit-headed cunts who have their heads so far up their birth canals that they don't know shit from shinola (and believe me, that's being kind).  The characters are written as to be so unlikeable and so on tracts that don't have logic to them, especially when the characters get to their laughably-high-sheen Abu-Dabi getaway that it almost hates on women in the guise of dopey-goofy comedy.  They're shallow, crass, the women treat men like shit or sexual objects, and yet the men keep coming back to reward them (i.e. Carrie, kissing former flame Aiden) with gifts and praise and fucking!  ::Jack smashes desk ala Hulk::

According to this movie, this is *wrong*.  ::Face palm::
Oh, and this is NOT funny, barely a little bit, except maybe in the unintentional column again, such as when Carrie asks Big, without a shred of irony it would seem, "Am I a bitch wife who nags you?"  Most of the movie is made up of cutesy clever 'puns' like  "Lawrence of my Labia" as said by Samantha looking at a hot Sheik in the desert.  Or a reference to "it's the law" suddenly bringing out "Yeah, Jude Law", which had me throwing a shoe at the TV.  Or a repeated "pun" (must use quotes) for "Inter-friend-tion", which later turns into "Inter-FUN-tion.  Stop me from having an epileptic aneurysm.

King doesn't seem to see how so much of what he presents is offensive, and not even so much for, for example, the treatment of Muslims and Arabs in the Abu Dabi scenes.  No, I'm reminded of the scene from Seinfeld where Jerry is upset at his doctor for converting to Judaism for the jokes.  The Preist says, "Does this offend you as a Jewish person?" Jerry replies, "No, it offends me as a comedian!" That's the problem here: it's just not funny, or it thinks its clever when it isn't.  Only one scene involving a Liza Minelli cameo ("If there's gay people she magically appears") has the air of amusement about it.

So much of this, in fact, would have made for the kind of vicious satires that Luis Bunuel used to pull off so smashingly.  There is no discreet charm in these bourgeois people.  They're lives are dictacted around having good times with the every so often "oh, my children" or "oh, my spouse" while doing the kind of stupid bullshit that would have had them divorced from their spouses long ago.  It's meant to be meaningful or satirical when the girls sometimes get their commupances like in the climax of the picture (so called) when they're kicked out of their luscious hotel in Abu Dabi and combing the marketplace to find Carrie's passport (woopsy daisy) and then to get some raucous commentary with Samantha showing skin and perturbing the Muslim men.  This is idiotic and inane, but not as much as when the women of Abu Dabi reveal that they're secretly fashion whores obsessed with glittering shoes and Samantha Sommers books on tighs.  Nice to see they're so obsessive and shallow as Western women as opposed to being intellectually engaged or attempting to be smarter than their male dominants.

"Wow, you were in Tanner 88?" "Please, don't remind me, or I'll cry in my Cosmo"
And that leads me to what is probably deep down most offensive about this, and why I mentioned Town and Country: it's very hard to identify with people who are so well off and have no real problems or conflicts to them.  At worst they're living in already expensive NY apartments with tons of stuff, clothes, tons of shoes, spouses who love them (almost in spite of themselves) and dopey children who smatter red paint on their designer pants(?).  It's the anti-recession-era movie, and I have to suspect it was meant as "escapist" fare for people to rush along with they're favorite characters to exotic locales.  I would have some dismay and embarrassment to meet women (or gay men?) who genuinely like or possibly love this movie.  It goes beyond common reasoning in these times.  I might have had problems with characters in the series, but nothing compared to this: it's to the point that when the revolution comes for the proletariat, I'll kill the Sex and the City women FIRST just to show these rich motherfuckers I mean business!

So there.

PS: I forgot to mention that the acting doesn't help here, and Sarah Jessica Parker's seemingly inate ability to see the illogic of her character comes out in her empty performance.  A dog humping a prada bag steals the show as far as acting goes.

PPS: Thanks DVD for not featuring the audio commentary, which would have been the most fascinating of its kind since Sean McNamara's goodies on Bratz, instead for a feature on... 80's fashion and hair?  They're only in their 80's selves for ten fucking seconds!  Thanks, movie.

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