Sex and the City 2: No Sex? Different City? Why Bother?

The new Sex and the City movie is a shining example of why everyone -- especially screenwriters -- should learn math and chemistry. Math, because the movie's 140-minute runtime could do with a little subtraction -- this isn't Gandhi, here, although Sarah Jessica Parker looks more like him every day. And chemistry, because the movie's two most important elements, "sex" and "the city" -- you know, the ones that are in the title -- are practically nonexistent in this installment, which takes away much of what usually makes this compound so potent. Statistically speaking, if New York City is "the fifth cast member" of the show, then 80% of this film is missing 20% of the cast.

The movie opens and closes in New York, but the lion's share takes place in Connecticut -- where the only two gay characters on the show are getting married -- and Abu Dhabi, where public displays of sex are forbidden by the traditional Muslim population. If that's not a red flag right there, I don't know what is. I was worried that the movie would be some sort of feature-length ad for Abu Dhabi -- and it certainly starts off that way -- but given the trouble the girls get into by the end, it's no surprise Abu Dhabi didn't let them film there. Sure, there are glamorous resorts and cheap shoes and supposedly-fun desert camel rides, but it's not worth it if shorts get you glares, make-out sessions get you arrested and the presence of condoms nearly gets you stoned. Granted, it's not Jewel of the Nile-level trouble, where Aidan has to get into a fighter plane and blow stuff up to rescue Carrie from a mad despot (which would have been awesome), but it's enough to make a liberated city girl never want to visit the Middle East, ever. (At least, not on the dime of a capricious sheik.)

Yeah, there's some sex in the film, but between Samantha being on sexual lockdown and the rest of the girls being separated from their spouses for a long stretch, it's not much. Even when they're actually home, Carrie is worrying about how much TV she and Big watch, Charlotte is stressing out over raising two kids (despite having a nanny) and Miranda is hating on her job. There is a vaguely sex-related storyline with Charlotte worrying that Harry is after the busty Irish nanny, and Samantha manages to work in a couple of bookend bangs, but otherwise all the leering and innuendo leads nowhere. Even the big Aidan appearance, while welcome, is ultimately a non-issue.

Overall, the whole film is completely over-the-top. The gay wedding is a swan-filled, men's-choir-soundtracked and Liza Minnelli-officiated mess. (Minnelli singing "Single Ladies" with two Liza-looking back-up dancers is what I presume a drug-fueled nightmare looks like.) The outfits are as gaudy as ever, and they get gaudier when they hit the desert, with rainbow-striped harem pants for everyone. And now every character, not just Carrie, speaks entirely in puns. A partial list includes "mid-wife crisis," "Erin go braless," "Abu-Dhabi-Do!" and "Lawrence of My Labia," but the movie has more painful dialogue than an entire season of Smallville.

I will give the film credit for sticking with Carrie and Big's decision not to have children. At one point, their decision is met with such dim-witted confusion that for the rest of the film I was thinking the seed of doubt had taken root, especially when they kept hammering the "just the two of them" theme. But apparently the sight and sound of Charlotte trying to wrangle her crying kids is enough for them to continue to not want to hear the sound of little Manolos. Now if only we can prevent this movie from spawning any more sequels, we'll be all set.

What did you think of Sex and the City 2? Let us know below, read our review of the last one, and then see how the ladies stack up against other Great Female Ensembles!

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