A week of brutal endurance in cinemas sees Ian "ProfessorClumsy" Maddison struggle through the soulless Sex and the City 2, while Joseph "Jay Dub" Wade punishes his inner child with the supposed final chapter of Shrek.
EXPECTATIONS: I would often indulge in an episode of Sex and the City back in the day. It might have been formulaic and flimsy, but it was also kind of funny and even endearing. However, the first cinematic outing was a long-winded, uneventful, episodic affair. My hopes for Sex and the City 2 are even lower, after learning of the film's Middle East setting and the comedic potential of wearing high heels in soft sand and falling off camels. I'm not so sure I even want to go. Will you go instead? No? Damn it.
REALITY: Sex and the City 2 is a two-and-a-half-hour-long film in which absolutely nothing happens. I mean that literally. There is not a single event in this entire film. The plot never moves forward because there is no plot. I'd give a story synopsis, but there doesn't seem to be much point. All you need to know is that there are four middle-aged women: Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Samantha (Kim Cattrall). They get together at highfalutin fashion parties in the trendy end of New York, relying on their infinite wealth and limitless free time to get them through life. And we're supposed to relate to these characters.
And then nothing happens.The closest thing we get to a plot comes when the girls all decide to jet off to Abu Dhabi for a week (this occurs almost one hour into the film), so that absolutely nothing can continue to happen in a different setting and the film can pretend to be making a statement on female empowerment.
Where the problem comes in describing or explaining the story to this film lies is in its complete lack of tension. Every situation that arises is almost immediately resolved, usually through absolutely no effort on the part of the protagonists. At one point, Samantha is arrested for having sex in public. No problem, it's all resolved in the next scene thanks to Omid Djalili, one of Britain's top comedians. That must be hilarious, right? Well no, he plays it straight and the scene has one joke about condoms that just isn't funny. So these situations are set up and thrown away with absolutely no pay-off.
John Corbett (left) stifles a yawn as he is forced to listen to the horrendous dialogue.Just to make things even less interesting, we see the return of Carrie's completely arbitrary narration. "I went for a walk along the beach," we are informed, just in case we can't see. It gets dangerously close at times to "I feel sad in this scene." We don't need everything spelled out to us, especially when nothing is happening. The excuse we're given for this is that Carrie is a hugely successful writer who has churned out a series of books that has a huge fan base but doesn't sit well with critics. Seeing any parallels there? There is actually a scene in which the girls all sit down to berate a critic who gave her latest book a negative review. "You're the voice of women, and this guy doesn't want women to have a voice." Wow! It's like you've just written off every potential negative review! Well, guess what? I really do want women to have a voice, but I don't think writer/director Michael Patrick King is the right man for that particular job.
But what an attempt he makes at given these women a voice. Everybody speaks in soundbites and unfunny quips, often overplaying a punchline just enough to kill any comic potential. The girls all gather in a karaoke bar, making comments on the social attitudes towards sex and belting out "I am Woman, Hear Me Roar" in an unrealistically tuneful way. Empowering, no? How about that scene in which a small group of Arab women shed their burqas to reveal all the latest fashions from New York? Yeah, that actually happens. It's exactly as funny and as empowering as it sounds. I'm embarrassed for womankind.
What we're left with is a film about a group of unlikeable, unrelatable women who are so in love with their flamboyant lifestyles that they put them above everything else. This is a film in which the lead character spends the first half of the film complaining about her goofy-faced husband wanting to sit on the couch and stay in occasionally, and spends the second half cheating on him. Is this the voice of a downtrodden gender, setting its sights on a culture that needs waking up? Or is it an ode to consumerism that would make Ayn Rand blush? I just don't know who the hell is identifying with these characters anymore, apart from people who share their love of shoes.
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