Hollywood has always been an insular place its peculiar rhythms largely indifferent to those of the outside world. Nowhere is this more achingly evident than in Sex and the City 2 a movie so staggeringly tone-deaf it appears as if constructed in some decadent biosphere its filmmakers unaware that they were constructing not only one of the worst studio films in recent memory but arguably one the most misogynist as well.
Whereas the close of 2008’s Sex and the City found heroines Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) Charlotte (Kristen Davis) and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) more or less getting everything they’ve ever wanted the sequel finds them faced with the inconveniences that come along with having everything they’ve ever wanted. Patrician Charlotte despite the aid of both of a full-time nanny and a housekeeper is overwhelmed by the demands of being a stay-at-home mom to two children while high-powered executive Miranda is too ensconced in boardroom politics to attend her genius second-grader’s science faire (though to be honest the child is probably better off without her around).
Superstar publicist Samantha now 52 her familiar bawdiness nearing its awkward creepy-uncle stage is in the throes of peri-menopause swallowing pills by the handful to boost her sex drive and forestall her inevitable descent into cat-hoarding spinsterdom. And Carrie two years into her marriage with Mr. Big (Chris Noth) a man whose positive qualities are limited to his massive bank account and his supply of clever entendres (each delivered in his trademark dulcet monotone) is frustrated that her husband is more interested in spending weeknights watching TV on the couch than squiring his prized thoroughbred around to glitzy movie premieres.
Wilting under such stifling affluence the four gal pals opt to flee on a whirlwind trip to the Abu Dhabi to recharge their collective engines — but not before a nearly hour-long first act involving a gay wedding which allows writer/director/producer Michael Patrick King to get his fill of gay jokes and throw in a superfluous performance of Liza Minnelli singing Beyonce’s All the Single Ladies. And it’s just as disturbing as you'd expect.
The choice of Abu Dhabi as the girls’ destination is not as counter-intuitive as it seems: The famously oil-rich Arab Emirate is one of the few places on earth capable of providing the girls with a level of luxury beyond which they’ve already grown accustomed. Justice (and compelling storytelling) would find their plane hijacked and re-routed to Mogadishu where they’d be forced into the employ of Somali pirates. But no they land safely in Abu Dhabi where they’re given individual Maybachs a throng of dutiful manservants and a $22 000/night hotel suite — all the accoutrements required to gain the proper perspective on things.
By this point King has clearly lost his perspective unaware of how monstrously self-absorbed and entitled he's allowed his film's four protagonists to become or how their unapologetic opulence might appear to a world still struggling to emerge from economic armageddon. He's too preoccupied with mounting his female version of Ishtar — replete with awful puns involving camel toes and "Lawrence of my labia" and an atrocious karaoke performance of the feminist anthem "I Am Woman Here Me Roar" — to notice how badly things have gone awry and how badly his film reflects upon women.
And it gets worse. Before leaving Abu Dhabi the increasingly loathsome quartet become involved in a mishap that ends with Samantha (now effectively reduced to a walking hormone joke) in the middle of a busy town square holding up a package of condoms thrusting her hips and shouting "I have sex!!!" as the Muslim call to prayer is sounded. Sex and the City 2 won't win any awards (save for a few Razzies) but it could become an effective inspirational video for suicide bombers — provided they can endure the film's two-and-a-half hour running time of course.