Sex Is a Pity

satc2 15475 Sex Is a Pity The only thing memorable about Sex and the City 2 is the number two part, which describes it totally, if you get my drift. Everything else in this deadly, brainless exercise in pointless tedium is dedicated to the screeching audacity of delusional self-importance that convinces these people the whole world is waiting desperately to watch two hours and 25 minutes of platform heels, fake orgasms and preposterous clothes. It is to movies what fried dough is to nutrition.

It has been two years since their last chick flick and in the interim, Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda have turned from Cosmo girls who munch into cougar ladies who lunch. They still devote their lives to the credo that no crisis is ever so great that it can’t be solved by a new pair of Manolo Blahniks, but now there’s a difference. No longer waiting for orgasms, they’re waiting for menopause, and in all four cases, they’ve found it. No film has ever contained so many sloppy hairdos soaking wet from hot flashes. Tired of being called the heterosexual equivalent of Armistead Maupin’s gay West Coast lampoon Tales of the City in the San Francisco Chronicle, this installment opens with Carrie in a man’s tuxedo, playing the best man at a gay wedding almost as vulgar as the homophobic one-liners about the minister, played by-are you ready?-Liza Minnelli, who parodies herself by telling the congregation, “Marriage is serious … or so they tell me,” before blasting off with Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”

Carrie, a neurotic Black Belt shopper who lives for designer labels, and an occasional columnist who writes about being fabulous and single, has been married two years to Mr. Big (Chris Noth), who once dumped her at the altar. (Sarah Jessica Parker looks better after her face mole was surgically removed, so why does her hair look like 20 pounds of mattress stuffing?) Uptight, Waspy-turned-Jewess Charlotte (Kristin Davis) brings her bald Jewish husband, her two babies and a nanny without a bra. Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is back with nice-guy bartender Steve (David Eigenberg), but still too preoccupied as a lawyer to pay much attention to her home life (although rarely seen so much as filing a brief). Samantha (Kim Cattrall), still the group slut who has slept with every eligible man in Manhattan and half of Brooklyn without learning anything about real life in the Porthault sheets, brings a new face that looks like some of the sutures are still in it and her usual stinging one-liners. (“It’s a gay wedding-what’s one more bitch with an attitude?”) These are the jokes, and since the four women dress like drag queens, it’s not always easy to tell the difference.

Substituting for a plot, the four bimbos brew trouble in paradise. Allergic to the kitchen, Carrie calls herself “more Coco Chanel than coq au vin” and wants to go out on the town every night, while Big pleads for osso buco at home and watching old black-and-white classics in bed like It Happened One Night. (The only sane person in the entire film, if you ask me.) Smith (Jason Lewis), the old squeeze Samantha turned into a Hollywood star by smearing sushi on her V-word, comes to town for his new movie premiere and puts a temporary smile on her face, although it sags again when Miley Cyrus shows up on the red carpet wearing the same dress. (Penélope Cruz also makes a cameo appearance as the senior VP of the Bank of Madrid. Who could make this stuff up?) You keep asking yourself, “Where is this going?” And the only answer you come up with is “Every place it’s already been before.” In the 2008 chapter, Carrie had a nervous breakdown in a Vivienne Westwood wedding gown that looked like a cloud of lemon meringue pie on the front steps of the New York Public Library, and her soulmates whisked her off to Mexico for mariachis, margaritas and a dose of Montezuma’s Revenge for Charlotte, who pooped in her lingerie. This time, after Mr. Big suggests two days a week off from marriage, they all drag Carrie to Abu Dhabi (played by Morocco), where more than an hour is wasted on camel rides, karaoke numbers and insulting Middle East jokes like “Abu Dhabi Doo,” “Bedouin, Bath and Beyond” and “Lawrence of My Labia.” A mild touch of feminism makes a brief appearance when a group of women covered in black confess they’ve been inspired by a forbidden book by their idol … Suzanne Somers!! Samantha gets arrested for nudity and kissing in public; Carrie loses her passport in the casbah; and they almost miss their return flight, which elicits from Samantha a mournful shriek: “I can’t be in menopause and coach!”

Dragging its deplorable carcass into infinity, Sex and the City 2 is so bad you can’t even watch the trailer. Almost everyone who has ever appeared on the TV series reappears to mutter two or three lines that contribute nothing to the film they’re in. The women-too old now to pout, whine and babble about their wet dreams, affluent and successful for reasons that are never clear-are all vain, narcissistic, selfish, superficial and really rather stupid. The actors work hard to perform triage, but they’ve been playing these roles so long they’ve grown moss. The insipid screenplay and catatonic direction seem chloroformed. Both are by Michael Patrick King. He’s an expert at product placement and marketing (the end credits list hundreds of free plugs for everything from limousines to breakfast cereal), but I seriously doubt if he could direct Jeeps in the middle of the Mojave desert.

When all this greed pays off with millions in box office receipts, the hacks responsible for Sex and the City 2 will say, “I told you so.” But that won’t make the movie any better. You can’t make caviar out of jujubes.

rreed@observer.com

Sex and the City 2
Running time 146 minutes
Written and directed by Michael Patrick King
Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Chris Noth

1 Eyeball out of 4

eyeball Sex Is a Pity