Monday, June 21, 2010


(Posted in “Summer blockbusters: superhero, supermodel” and “Raj, Big

Bang Theory”)


It’s tragic when a hate affair ends. Like every red-blooded American

boy, I took dad to see Sex and the City 2 for Father’s Day (his

choice, my hand to god). As an epicure of bad film, I went expecting

the kind of jaw-dropping commodity delirium and self-executing

celebrity narcissism that reassures my faith that you’ve never seen it

all (and I knew I hadn’t seen it with Sex and the City 1 -- -- ’cuz the numbers keep going up).


And at the outset, it was promising: a lot more of the trademark

glam-schizophrenia shots with minor-celeb Carrie and her wholly

unfamous friends marching around like the planet is their runway;

lotta delusional Busby Dior affluence; and an opening setpiece at two

other friends’ gay wedding where the entertainment is Liza Minnelli

doing a ghastly cover of “Put a Ring on It” (whatever the price of the

real Beyonce’s dignity is, apparently the filmmakers did not meet

it). Then the shock set in…it really wasn’t all that bad.


Yes, for every one or two brilliant fellatio jokes and wry insights of

social-fringe satire there’s still seven lame juvenile puns and jags

of desperate writers’-room tragic hipness. And yes, when the girls

decamp to Abu Dhabi for a calgon-take-me-away vacay there’s a

nightclub-karaoke rendition of “I Am Woman” by the four postmodern

Barbies in the cradle of purdah that boogied right past the

post-murder frolic in teenpop heaven from Lovely Bones and the

jazz-dance alien-possession scene in Spider-Man 3 on my personal list

of the all-time most tasteless musical showstoppers. And okay,

there’s a decidedly mixed goody-bag of collector cameos, from Liza

(appalling) to Tim Gunn (hilarious) to Miley Cyrus (also appalling,

but it sets up the Tim Gunn one) to Penelope Cruz (ah, Penelope…um,

what were we talking about?).


But just as even Sarah Jessica herself has confided to interviewers

that she’s running an internal narrative in which the four fairytale

friends are a figment of Carrie’s imagination, the crumbling economy

has caused cracks to form in the franchise’s rich-and-famous sim.

There are nods to real-life tough times throughout, including several

unsentimentalized encounters with workin’ serfs of the global

plantation economy in the midst of the mega-resort locale. There’s a

great scene where Miranda and Charlotte have to get each other drunk

to admit what a crock idealized motherhood is (though I still saw it

as a missed opportunity for an arbitrary Ayelet Waldman cameo). And

karaoke counter-insurgency notwithstanding, there’s a lot of

relatively sure-footed culture-clash humor that sends a notably

good-natured post-9/11 message that the West and Middle East are gonna

have to effin’ get used to each other.


At least one internet wag has reviewed this as a horror movie, and I

admit that the major plotline of a crazed Samantha popping a portable

pharmacy of quack menopause remedies put me in mind of a reverse Larry

Talbot trying to turn back into the Wolfman. But the gag is genuinely

and dependably funny, damn them. It’s just one of many things I can’t

forgive the franchise for. ’Cuz this inexorable sequel reminds me that

those numbers go in one direction, and not only are none of us

getting younger, but there’s not necessarily any point past which we

can escape growing up.

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