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Review: 'Sex and the City 2' an ad for debauchery

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“Sex and the City 2”
Directed by: Michael Patrick King
Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, John Corbett, Chris Noth
Rated: R

Is “Sex and the City 2” the worst big-budget movie ever made? No. That honor still goes to “Battlefield Earth.”

Other than that, is there anything good to be said about the movie? Not really.

Even though I'm not a “Sex and the City” fanatic, I saw several episodes of the series and liked the characters and the actresses playing them. I still do. The half-hour episodes were well-written and snappy.

At nearly two and a half hours, the new film is nearly two hours too long and filled with enough conspicuous consumption and narcissism to make one want to stop wearing shoes - or simply become an ascetic.

Creator/writer/director Michael Patrick King has narrowed the focus of his writing. The characters have become mere caricatures of themselves. Only die-hard fans will like this sequel, and the one that will surely follow. I simply wish I had the 146 minutes of my life back to do something more interesting, such as watch paint dry or mow my lawn.

At the end of the last film, Carrie and her lover, “Big,” finally tied the knot. At the opening of this film, there's another wedding in which the fabulous four friends are involved. It's the marriage of two of their gay male friends. To quote a classic "Seinfeld" line, “Not that there's anything WRONG with that...”

What IS wrong with it is the fact it's a garish overblown scene. Liza Minnelli shows up - not just to sing, along with two Liza lookalikes, but to perform the marriage ceremony. Who knew she was a minister?

After the wedding we get a really long dose of what's been going on in the two years since the end of the last film.

Carrie and Big are finding marriage harder than expected. He likes to stay home and watch old movies. She likes to go out on the town. He suggests they spend two days a week apart. She is not crazy about the idea.

Charlotte is finding it hard to raise her two kids, one of whom never stops crying. Things get worse when her husband starts paying extra attention to the young Irish nanny who, if she actually knows what a bra is, chooses not to wear one.

Miranda decides to quit her high-profile (and high-paying) job as an attorney because her boss shushes her at a meeting.

Samantha, ever the libertine, is still single - not married or tied down to one man, but rarely alone at night. She's worried about losing her libido to menopause and is on a regimen of hormone creams and pills.

She's still a high-end public relations agent, and one of her clients is a billionaire from Abu Dhabi. This convenient plot device sets up the next stage of the story, where the girls get an all-expenses-paid trip to a $22,000-a-night suite in Abu Dhabi's swankiest hotel. They each have their own man servant and spend a lot of time over wallowing in more consumption.

I realize that during the Great Depression, Hollywood movies that portrayed glamour and good times were an escape mechanism and flights of fantasy. But this is cruel punishment to the average person in the work-a-day world who is upside down on a mortgage, looking for work and trying to put kids through college. It's as if you hadn't eaten in a week and had to watch a quartet sit down to an all-you-can-eat buffet and gorge themselves for two hours, and talk about how utterly incredible the food was.

Obviously, something has to go wrong to create some sort of manufactured dramatic tension, and an attempt at comedy.

Samantha's overt sexuality and refusal to tone it down puts the girls in disfavor with their benefactor who cuts off their freebie stay. Now they are stranded in a country where burqas, not designer shoes, are the norm in female style and they have to fend for themselves. Their individual limousines are replaced by ... taxis. How will they survive?

Act Three is a mishmash of poorly executed slapstick and vapid attempts at making something akin to a political/feminist statement.

Most longtime fans of the franchise will disagree with the critics, who are universally panning this overlong advertisement for high-dollar clothing, food and lifestyle.

Honest fanatics of the original series, and the elements that made it appealing, will have to admit - even if just to themselves - that “Sex in the City 2” is nothing more than a debasing, boring, overblown pair of poorly made designer shoes.[[In-content Ad]]

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