My off the cuff, unedited take on this whole matter of deux:
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the first two acts of Sex & The City 2 (despite the repeated use of the term "interfriendtion"), also my expectations were low, especially after hearing that I might want to wear a blindfold, it’s that bad. People with low expectations see the world in color. The problem with this particular film is that it showed us Oz, only to disappoint us with a final act that felt undeveloped, unbelievable, unrealistic, and uncolored. It was almost as if the writers (if it wasn’t penned only by Michael Patrick King) spent all their time tweaking the beginning and middle and were pressured for an ending, stat. So they slapped one on and hoped it would stick. It didn’t. But, here’s the real question, does it matter?
I can answer for myself, and say no. I mean, yes, it sucks that the final act wasn’t a class act, but on the whole, the film did its job: it made me feel. It pressed on the emotional pressure points (though mostly in the moments that dealt with motherhood), which is all I need to feel satisfied.
Comedies are supposed to make you laugh. I get that. The Sex & The City television series was a comedy about love, sex, and friendship—a chick flick of a show, really. So when its chick flick of a movie counterpart came along, I didn’t for a second expect it to be so funny I’d fart. Because no one goes to a chick flick to laugh, not really. We don’t see them for their funny; we see them for their feel.
That’s what I wanted from the movie. I wanted to feel, to ache, to believe the struggle- to cry – to think about my own life. I watch chick flicks for their insight, for the way they reveal a moment we’ve already lived, even though our life is nothing like the ones being lived on screen. At the end of the day, we connect to emotion, not gags and one-liners (Though Samantha’s “Have we met?” in response to Charlotte’s “How will you swallow all those?” was a beautiful thing—in the trailer anyway).
I saw the film trailer, with Carrie in Abu Dhabi bumping into Aiden, and I wondered if the movie would explore the notion of fate, of meant to be, maybe even a “what if” glimpse into an alternate future. Because who doesn’t question “What if I’d ended up with him, instead of where I’ve ended up today?” It would be a bit Sliding Doors meets Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, but we’re game for anything. The ladies have been missed. We’re ready for Sex. For The City. But as it turns out, really, there’d be neither. And what we would get of it, would be gratuitous.
The whole Abu Dhabi escape was just that, a departure from what we loved so much about the series: the friendships, the struggle, and the love affair, the rapture, with Manhattan. But look what the writers were up against. They basically were charged with creating a satisfying story of hell and back while keeping everything status quo at the close of the film.
It’s not easy to write a story about a happily married couple, to rip them apart without actually ripping them apart, then piece them back together. Because there’s somehow less at stake. There’s less ache, less restlessness, less wanting. And those are the emotions to which we connected most in the TV series. Knowing what you want, desperately trying to find it, to believe in it, to get it and to keep it. This was a story about wanting what you have when it’s already yours. And it’s hard to show arc, growth, to really take us on a journey with those constraints.
If I were tasked with writing a "Now That The Charmings Are Married" feature while preserving the marriage in the end, it would likely become "The Story of Us," with the raw, sometimes sad, reality of making things work. Heavy on compromise, on power struggles, on feeling understood. The second guessing—the should I‘s?— but how do you deliver a satisfying ending? With our gal finally embracing her choice, believing she’ll now be happy, ever after, without wondering, even for a moment, if she’s made the right choice?
I suppose it’s about taking us through the nightmare, really into the thick of it, the intimacy of a fight, and seeing us through to the other side, stronger. That’s all we want. To be dragged through the mud in the hopes that we’ll have glowing skin (with minimized pores) in the end. Did I see that in this film? I saw glimpses of it, but I didn’t feel it. Not the way I felt the reality and ache of motherhood—that’s what I felt most. Not exactly what you’d expect from a film with “Sex” in the title.
BRING ON THE SPOILERS: MY SCENE + STORY REACTIONS…
Loved the quick flashes of how the girls first met, the hair, the clothes, the ’80s. This is where they get to take their funny out for a spin, without a line of dialogue. But then we’re dragged into a wedding that seems irrelevant.
The Liza Minnelli thing: I couldn’t help but panic. I worried she’d drop dead—not the way you want to begin a marriage. Speaking of which, why bring up the whole “He’s allowed to cheat” thing? Anthony telling everyone he can cheat on Stanford if he wants to? It’s like putting a gun on a mantel. You’ve got to use it if you show it. Here, they presented us with this issue, and we see that Charlotte cares about it, Carrie, too. The issue has been given real estate on the page, but it goes nowhere. We never hear of it again. Because this isn’t what the movie is about. Some might argue that it introduced the idea of cheating, but was it really needed? Or funny?
I also could have done without having to listen to Carrie and Big John play-argue about the emphasis of gay wedding. Bore to the ing. Aside from this, though, I was on board.
The Charlotte, Harry, and The Nanny Storyline: The writers took the easy way out. Here was an opportunity to really explore insecurity, both as a mother and wife. A bra-less nanny steps in, adored by the children, desired by men. And how’s it dealt with? Charlotte acting psycho, to which I can actually relate on some level, but she never really confronts her insecurities. Again, I was along for the ride, ready for the insight and growth. And it was well-done until it was tied up in the end by revealing that the nanny is a lesbian. It’s just too easy. It gave the writers an out, without having to deal with the real issue: that no matter how beautiful you are, there will always be the threat of NEW, of different. And you can spend your time worrying about it, or you can say, I’m damn fine the way I am, and I trust the shit out of that man. If he’s gonna cheat, he’s gonna cheat, and there’s nothing I can do to control any of it, just myself, and I refuse to act like an insecure school girl when I have my own girls to raise.
Samantha Ain’t The Only Thing Getting’ Old: Samantha eating yams: funny. Samantha having her yams fondled: been there, admired those. Yes, it’s called Sex & The City, so there’s the expectation of some actual sex. Still, there was an opportunity here to explore something new, to bring a fresh perspective, to see some type of growth, change, or revelation for Samantha, now 52. Have her resist, but come to embrace modesty, explore want without acting on it, have her experience the forbidden—hell, make it about Tantra if you must (yeah, yeah, so what if it’s Buddhist not Muslim). At least let her explore the phenomenon of injaculation. Give us something. And please, in the end, throw us some sort of epiphany that will make all the silly frivolity worth it.
Why must Miranda always look like an awkward fashion "don’t?" Aside from the opening moments, where she’s in an asymmetrical dress, and in the paisley number, she looks like she got knocked up by the age of Aquarius. She’s a technicolor acid trip of awkward. Not fair. Equally as unfair: the way her story line was wrapped up. She’s feels like she’s not taken seriously at her current firm, given the disrespected hand in the air, and it’s all wrapped up neatly, as part of a closing montage, with the camera pulling away, seeing Miranda at a smaller, simpler, firm, at a rooftop lunch. That fast. Again, it’s like the writers had time to spend on the first and second acts, but were forced to throw that third act together in a hurry, which brings us to the biggest offender: the Big ending.
Yes, the scene in Abu Dhabi with the Arab women wearing Dior dresses beneath their burkas was beyond stupid and should have remained on the cutting room floor. And the bit where Carrie points out Charlotte’s unfortunate case of camel toe, after falling off a camel (badumbum) would have been sad in and of itself, had Carrie not had her own horrendous case of camel only a scene prior. But…
The biggest offense was the Big finale: By phone, Carrie confesses to Big that she kissed Aiden. A selfish move on her part–even telling him, knowing it was a mistake. And she returns to their apartment, no Big. Until he turns up and punishes her, but giving her a black diamond ring, one she needs to wear on her finger. Pahleeze.
Oh, we get it. Begin with Carrie wanting her own last name on the wedding program, have her resist ever wearing a big ring. Have her dig in her designer heels about what she wants to do, make it all I, not us. Then give us an ending where we see her embrace compromise, make her comfortable with we and ours. Make it clear enough to the audience that we can see it, as clear as the rock on her manicured finger. This is in no way believable or satisfying. It’s an easy out, again.
All that said… the insecurity about motherhood—experienced by Miranda juggling work and life, and by Charlotte having to raise these children she’s always wanted, coming to terms with the fact that you’re going to fail sometimes, you’ll disappoint, you’ll lock yourself in a closet and pretend you’re not crying, you won’t get it right, but in the end, it will be alright—was poignant. And it was nice to see the intimacy between friends, the confessions of "bad mothers," because it’s sharing those moments in our lives, admitting our weaknesses, that strengthen our friendships. And at the end of the day, that’s exactly what you want to see in a film, essentially about friends who’ve become, and will always be, family.