"An Accidental Candid Snapshot of the Sick, Dying Heart of America"
There's been noise from some quarters that the negative reviews of "Sex and the City 2" are sexist, but this counterargument lands with a thud. Critics take down anything that's bad. That's what we do. We recommend what's good. That's what we do. Excusing "SATC 2" as escapist fantasy for women, while contrasting it with escapist fantasies for men such as "Taken," reveals what's truly bad about "SATC 2." (Which I haven't even seen yet, so...grain of salt.)
"Taken" is about a man who's increasingly relevant. He's necessary and important. Thus he acts as a fantasy figure for audience members who, most likely, feel increasingly unnecessary and unimportant in the world. He also answers every dramatist's first question: What does the guy want? He wants to get his daughter back. The movie is about everything he goes through to get that done.
"SATC 2" is about four women who are increasingly irrelevant. Why is this escapist fantasy? Because of the designer clothes and bags? Meanwhile, the main character, Carrie, doesn't even bother to answer the dramatist's first question. She doesn't know what she wants. She never has. With the exception of Big, whom she now has. Answered prayers.
I doubt I'll see it—SIFF's on—but here are some of the better comments I've read:
"Sex and the City 2" is more than harmless escapism. It's an accidental candid snapshot of the sick, dying heart of America, a film so pleased with its vacuous, trashy, art-free extravagance that its poster should be taped to the dingy walls of terrorist sleeper agents worldwide. More depressing and alarming than the movies themselves is the notion that a certain culture, a certain mindset, birthed it, without a pang of remorse or even apparent self-awareness, much less self-criticism. Ladies and gentlemen, this is why they hate us.
—Matt Zoller Seitz, IFC.com
The thinking behind the movie (written and directed by Michael Patrick King) is undisguised. Let’s start with an over-the-top gay wedding! Then we’ll send the girls to Abu Dhabi so they can rile up the fundamentalists with their sexuality! Then they’ll make fun of women in niqab (“Certainly cuts down on the Botox bill!”) but later show (campy) feminist solidarity! Won’t they look great swishing around the desert being waited on by smooth young Arab men?
—David Edelstein, New York
In one scene, Carrie asks her personal hotel butler, Guarau (Raza Jaffrey), about his family. His wife is back in India, he tells her; he flies home to see her every few months, when he can afford the fare. Carrie looks at him for a moment in silence, and we wonder: Is it possible she's confronting the unimaginable gulf that separates their two lives, the vast global network of consumption, exploitation, and injustice that's brought them together in this alien and alienating place? But no: Although she will later do Guarau a good turn, Carrie is merely wondering how she can get Big to appreciate her as much. Perched at the pinnacle of material comfort and social privilege in the waning days of the American empire, she can still find something to pout about.
—Dana Stevens, Slate.com