[Screen It]

(2010) (Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall) (R)

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Comedy: Four female best friends from Manhattan travel to Abu Dhabi for a girls-only week of fun in the sun only to run afoul of local customs.
Four successful best friends from Manhattan - newly married author Carrie (SARAH JESSICA PARKER), feminist lawyer Miranda (CYNTHIA NIXON), promiscuous PR exec Samantha (KIM CATTRALL), and supermom Charlotte (KRISTIN DAVIS - are given the opportunity to take an all-expenses-paid trip to Abu Dhabi for a week and indulge in Middle Eastern food, culture, and men. This follows a gay wedding of friends Anthony and Stanford (MARIO CANTONE and WILLIE GARSON) and a star-studded movie premiere back in America.

The vacation comes at just the right time. Carrie has been feeling stifled in her marriage to Mr. Big (CHRIS NOTH). Miranda just quit her job at a law firm where her male boss was openly hostile towards her. Samantha is trying to stave off menopause and maintain her legendary sex drive. And Charlotte is being driven crazy by her two small children, even though she has the help of a full-time nanny, Erin (ALICE EVE).

Once over in the Middle East, the women's sensibilities clash with the traditionalist Muslim views of women. Carrie has a chance meeting with her former fiancÚ, Aidan (JOHN CORBETT), and allows a subsequent dinner date to go a bit too far. Samantha tries to hook up with a dashing playboy named Rikard (MAX RYAN). And Miranda and Charlotte plan their next phase of life.

The trip changes their lives in ways both expected and unexpected. And their return to New York is one of change and acceptance.

OUR TAKE: 1 out of 10
In sitting down to write my review of "Sex and the City 2," I was reminded of that scene in "Return of the Jedi" when the Emperor was trying to coax Luke Skywalker to the Dark Side of the Force. He had pitted the young Jedi against his evil father, Darth Vader, and then proceeded to taunt Luke with such words as: "Good! Use your aggressive feelings, boy! Let the hate flow through you!"

I can feel that Dark Side Force power flowing through my fingers as I type feverishly on my computer keyboard. I can't generate the words fast enough. I can't make the warning any clearer or harsher. Do NOT go see this movie, folks! It's not only just a bad film. It's bad for humanity in its single-minded embrace of a consumer culture that was fun pre-recession. But now it just seems totally crass, stupid, sad, and outdated.

Will the film appeal to the franchise's core fan base? Yeah, I suppose, especially if such audience members mimic their on-screen heroines in pounding back Cosmopolitans prior to the screening. To the rest of the world, this is one of the most aggressively unlikable films to hit screens in quite some time.

"Sex and the City 2" clocks it at an incredible 146 minutes. Instead of using that running time to create an epic exploration of four women continuing to find their place in the world and deal with such important issues as married life, menopause, diminished sex drive, sexual harassment in the workplace, modern-day motherhood, and so forth, it's two and a half hours of drivel; of sitting around pools, bars, on private jets, in pristine deserts, at glitzy movie premieres, and even glitzier gay weddings and just talking about...NOTHING!

The film feels like five TV episodes slapped together and clay molded into movie form. The first half-hour deals with the aforementioned gay wedding in Connecticut between longtime Carrie friends Stanford and Anthony (Willie Garson and Mario Cantone -- two vastly more interesting characters at this point than Carrie and her crew). The second half-hour deals with the four lead ladies attending a glitzy movie premiere in Manhattan. The third half-hour is Samantha scoring an all-expenses-paid trip to Abu Dhabi for her and her friends. The fourth half-hour deals with the women clashing with the Middle East culture. And the fifth half-hour is where they get into all sorts of hijinks trying to return to America and wrap up the four thread-thin subplots.

What are the subplots, you ask? Carrie is bored with her marriage to Mr. Big (Chris Noth). Charlotte is having a hard time mothering her two adopted kids despite a full-time nanny (Alice Eve). Samantha is trying to stave off menopause and maintain her sex drive. And Miranda is reeling from having quit her job as an attorney at a law firm where the boss hates women.

Of course, the real problems these four have is: "What to wear?" and "What to drink?" and "What to eat?" and "Where to lay down?" and "How much to spend?" The film feels like it will never end. And by the time Carrie and her friends finally anger the residents of Abu Dhabi enough to the point where they are literally run out of town by an angry mob, you're on the side of the Middle Easterners.

There are a few films a year where reviewers really earn their money. This is one of them. I can't be any more blunt or any more clear. This is total whoring of the human soul. I rate "Sex and the City 2" a 1 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed May 25, 2010 / Posted May 26, 2010

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