In an industry which was undeniably male dominated, the appearance in 1998 of HBO’s Sex and the City, a show centring around four sassy and ambitious women may have shocked the world with its inappropriate dialogue, but it stood as a definite milestone in female-driven TV series. The series ran for six phenomenally successful seasons and the first film was one of 2008’s biggest money-makers.
Two years down the line and we have the sequel to Sex and the City, a film which will no doubt have hordes of women in the country dolled up to extreme proportions. We join the foursome two years after the first film happily left off, dealing with Carrie’s (Sarah Jessica Parker) indiscreet dislike for Big’s (Chris Noth) perhaps constant couch potato behaviour; Charlotte (Kristin Davis) having an incredibly tough time dealing with her two kids; Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) putting up with her sexist, overbearing new boss; and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is enjoying the single life, unsurprisingly.
Luckily, Samantha scores a free trip to a five-star resort in Abu Dhabi, sending the girls on an adventure they’re sure to remember.
The energetic, quirky and stunningly well dressed characters walking down New York’s sidewalk will send a wave of nostalgia over anyone who watched the TV show, with the opening sequence “ featuring a wedding which could have only been thought up by Judy Garland and Elton John “ easing us back into the lives of the characters. Complications arise which send them back to their cafÃ© chit-chats, triggering caring advice and Samantha’s consistent urge to spout double entendres “ which later becomes increasingly nauseating but provide an easy laugh for its target audience, women intoxicated with cosmopolitans.
Miranda is given a storyline that is thrown away after the first few scenes. While she technically could have walked around aimlessly, she tends to be the one spreading her wings the most, caring for her friends, including a specifically moving scene involving Charlotte, and causing most of the film’s hilarity. Charlotte, is also given a rather underdeveloped storyline, spending most of the feature disagreeing with queen bee, Carrie, but contains the innocence and selflessness that she was remembered for in the series.
Lastly, Carrie, our prominent ingÃ©nue, has progressed little. Despite her transformation to a hopeless romantic (finally marrying Big at the end of the first film), her consistent shallowness is as noticeable as the actresses ever-increasing wrinkles. Constantly worrying about purchasing the latest high-priced product, she’s also taking her rage out on her husband, opting for endless nights out rather than staying in.
With the TV show spanning six seasons, the lack of depth in both films is perhaps understandable. Do we really want another hour on top of the already two-and-a-half hour running time, adding inessential information that the audience won’t need? Despite this, newcomers to the franchise are in for a severe lack of coherence between the characters. Thankfully, what it lacks in depth, it makes up for in chemistry. The quartet retain their rare relationship which emphasises the few more heartfelt scenes in the film, all of which deal with problems which are apparent in the lives of women (and overly-open men), enabling a connection to be made with them once more. Despite the essence of the remarkable females remaining intact, Michael Patrick King’s script sadly demeans them, and at times to the point where they don’t resemble the strong, independent women known from the series.
The sequel works as an antidote to the first film, which took a surprisingly serious turn for the girls. Taking them completely out of their comfort zone, Abu Dhabi provides both the characters and the audience with copious amounts of unusual, and often insanely over-the-top, scenarios, inevitably changing the film into more of a Clouseau-comedy caper nearing the end of their getaway. Plenty of references to Muslim women, and the nuisance caused by the burkas covering them, are made, some often transcending into the downright offensive. Despite the clear lack of concern or development on the cultural side, most jokes are handled with comedic care, merely attempting to address the need for equal rights.
King, the writer/director of both the show and the films, is a clear professional when it comes to all things Sex and the City. Still, we can’t help but question why he threw our girls into a sandy dune rather than keep them floored in the city. Taking up the vast majority of the film, it’s slightly bewildering why such a change was made. Whilst the extensive change in landscape fuels the characters with enough material to shape jokes out of, it doesn’t compare to life in New York.
The womens’ incessant urge for product consumption is heavily criticised, but the film’s overall class and ˜sparkle’ would be entirely absent without the never-ending display of eclectic fashion styles throughout each scene. These characters are evidently what a certain group of women today wish to be, so why not flaunt what can’t be had? It’s a simple fantasy that highlights how far from reality certain elements of the franchise can be.
Fans of the show will resemble their beloved characters in time for the sequel, an act of unflinching persistency will occur to queue up to be reunited with their gal pals once again. Those unfamiliar with the series and/or first film may wish to leave it well alone, unscathing the overall image and withdrawing from the potential bad after-taste. Still, if you’re willing to let yourself go, there’s a wild, slightly forgettable, sex-infused romp waiting to immerse yourself in. Now, where’s my burkini?