Sex and the City 2 (2010)

(On Cable TV, April 2017) When I say that my pet name for Sex and the City 2 would be “Middle-Aged Women Wish Fulfillment: The Sequel”, I’m not being as dismissive as you may think. For all of the middle-aged male wish fulfillment out there (and 2011 did have its own gender-flipped Dubai-set fantasy in Impossible Mission: Ghost Protocol except no one called it “male wish fulfillment”), there is a need for other kinds of escapist fantasies in cinema. Sex and the City 2 is aimed at a particular audience, and in that context I encourage it to be as pandering as possible given that I’m already getting plenty of pandering for my own demographic subset, thank you. This being said, I can’t in good conscience let the film skate away on the highly problematic sequences that it contains. Never mind the length of the movie, low-octane romantic stakes, general faux pas in making romantic sequels, first-world problems and over-privileged heroines: There’s a lot worse to be found in the way our four protagonists head over to Dubai on someone else’s dime, are lavishly served by indentured servants, flaunt local conventions like ugly Americans and are shocked when there are consequences to what they do. There is a particularly baffling sequence toward the end that has Kim Cattrall’s character acting out in ways that aren’t just offensive to hardline conservative but to anyone with the slightest bit of sense and respect. Sex and the City 2 tries to have it both ways as well, first as vicarious living in luxurious quarters, then by acknowledging the ugly underside of this luxury, then portraying its protagonists as victims of the trouble that they themselves get into. As much as I’d like to like the film (snip away much of the third quarter and it becomes far more palatable), at worst Sex and the City 2 tries to impose its own artificial materialistic/hedonistic values on a clearly identified Other and at best settles for an obnoxious fantasy. And I say this as someone who likes Sarah Jessica Parker, Chris Noth and the others. What a let-down.

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