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Sex and the City 2: movie review

The story line is barely there, but fabulous clothes are on full display throughout ‘Sex and the City 2.’

By Peter RainerFilm critic / May 30, 2010

From left, Kristin Davis, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall and Cynthia Nixon are shown in a scene from 'Sex and the City 2.'

Craig Blankenhorn/Warner Bros/AP

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A sequel to “Sex and the City”? I don’t mean to offend all you “SATC” fanatics, but do we really need to prolong the agony?

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It’s not that I’m against chick flicks. I actually rather like them, especially when, as in the case of “The Devil Wears Prada,” the chicks are expert performers and not simply standing around quipping campily and modeling for the boudoir. Chick flicks are often more fascinating than guy films, at least to this guy, because they offer a window into a world that is usually kept out of the movies.

But there are windows and then there are windows. The turquoise-tinted one in “SATC2” could use a deep scrub. I realize that gaudy fantasy is essential to this franchise, but why does the fantasy have to be so stunted?

Things begin semipromisingly, as the ladies – bestselling author Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), mother-of-two Charlotte (Kristin Davis), workaholic lawyer Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), and man-eater Samantha (Kim Cattrall) – attend a gay wedding featuring Liza Minnelli as headliner. This sequence is so purposefully over the top in displaying its camp credentials that it functions as a winking piece of self-satire. Nothing that follows has the same loony spritz.

Writer-director Michael Patrick King probably doesn’t need to worry, though, since no doubt his audience will contentedly experience “SATC2” as a reunion with old friends – as opposed to, you know, a good movie. But just in case, King has provided a story line that has the women traipsing about Abu Dhabi (actually Morocco) courtesy of a smitten sheikh. The palatial resplendence of their $20,000 per night hotel, with its endless pastel corridors and aquamarine pools, resembles a Harlequin Romance fever dream. But have no fear: Even in these climes, the women can’t hack happiness.

Carrie, for example, had been having marital issues back in New York with Mr. Big (Chris Noth) and, wouldn’t you know it, runs into an old boyfriend (John Corbett) in a shopping bazaar in Abu Dhabi. (When she expresses astonishment, I expected him to answer, “Haven’t you read the script?”) Charlotte is worried her husband (Evan Handler) is dallying with their hot new nanny. (Chick flick rule No. 1: Do not hire hot nannies.) Miranda is acting as the group’s game warden. Samantha, meanwhile, is having difficulty managing her rabid concupiscence in a Muslim country where kissing in public is apparently punishable by law.

If King had any wit he would have included a scene where a burka-clad Samantha performs the dance of the seven veils for one of her many smitten studs. Instead, he gives us a nutty-dumb sequence where the cocktail-infused quartet belt out “I Am Woman” in a karaoke bar.

Near the end, before the ladies beat a hasty retreat from Abu Dhabi, they enjoy a clandestine sisterhood confab with some giggly Muslim women. We’re meant to recognize that femaleness is the great leveler, but, really, if you bother to take this scene seriously, it’s patronizing. Just because well-to-do Muslim women wear Prada under all that anonymous outerwear doesn’t mean they’re stark raving feminists. The Muslim women in “SATC2” are props in the froth.

Come to think of it, so are Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha, and Miranda. Grade: C (Rated R for some strong sexual content and language.)

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