Before we begin, a reminder that “Laughs for Lark” is tonight at The Linda (WAMC Recording Studio). Tickets are sold at the door for $15; click for more info.
The film “Sex and the City 2” opens with the overplayed “Empire State of Mind,” then suddenly and without warning jumps into a montage sequence revealing the origins of the relationships between the four principal characters. After a speed-reading of their first two decades of friendship that functions as a clumsy excuse for visual puns involving 80s fashion trends, the four girls enter a store to purchase gifts for a wedding.
Who’s getting married? They tease Samantha, but in fact it’s two homosexual characters that, until this very moment, had been established as despising each other with every fiber of their being.
The gay marriage is irrelevant to the remainder of the movie. It isn’t simply forgotten as soon as it occurs, it’s avoided to the point of pretending it never happened. However, it establishes two important themes that are crucial to understanding this film.
One is that it doesn’t make any sense. But before I could even have that reaction, one of the characters – Charlotte – has it for me. They are discussing the wedding, and she interrupts to point out incredulously that this event isn’t just unlikely, it’s entirely illogical. She all but comes short of saying “wait, this movie is coming to a screeching halt so I, the actress portraying this character, can come to grips with this completely nonsensical development.”
The other characters re-assure Charlotte. It’s happening, they explain, because it’s happening. And that is all the explanation that’s needed. There are at least two other instances in the first act alone where characters quite literally point out the fact that what we are seeing does not make any sense, and in every instance they – and the audience – are told that the only explanation is that it’s happening and that there is no explanation.
Well, glad we got that out of the way.
The second integral component of the film conveyed by the nonsensical gay wedding is the entrance of none other than Liza Minelli. Liza appears to wed the two gentlemen and everyone expresses shock at her presence. When one of the ladies asks how or why Liza would ever agree to do such a thing, Miranda explains that there were so many homosexual men and elements of gay culture present at the wedding that she just manifested herself magically.
Liza’s presence, and the quip explaining it, are crucial to understanding this film. “Sex and the City 2,” like Liza’s presence, is not an event that was planned or written. Rather, it manifested itself through the combined wills of a demographic hungry to be targeted, Dolce & Gabana, the United Arab Emirates, and the ghost of the American economy.
It is that last concept that contains the strongest influence on the film: a tale of an out of touch woman proud of her inability to age gracefully draped in clothes that she insists are high fashion but which often make her look completely ridiculous. More importantly, Carrie (the American economy) finds herself in an arrangement (her marriage to Big) that she insists she’s ready for, but goes out of her way to continually and inexplicably sabotage.
If one were to approach this as a real film that was attempting to have its characters commit actions that make logical sense with something resembling a motivation, you’d be perplexed. Which is why you have to see “Sex and the City 2” for what it is: an unapologetic metaphor for America and all its excesses.
Like America, the four girls find themselves in the exact roles they always dreamed about; the very American dreams of marriage, home ownership, successful careers, and children. One by one they unravel because the characters got what they wanted, but weren’t prepared for the consequences. Miranda receives the demanding career in a cut-throat law firm, but now that firm has turned against her and no longer respects or desires her input. Charlotte has the two children she always wanted, but now they are driving her literally to tears with their demands. Samantha continues to have tons of sex, but must ingest literally fistfuls of pill supplements and hormones in order to keep her menopause at bay.
The principal character, Carrie, is the most obviously American metaphor. She finally has her marriage to Big but is dismayed that he is not romancing her twenty-four hours a day like she had imagined. She wanted him to be full-time what he was to her part-time, not realizing that what she saw was exactly what he was, and that the rest of the time he just did things like sleep and watch television.
The girls have everything they ever wanted, but only after they spent decades deluding themselves and romanticizing their goals. Meanwhile, the United States saw a real estate bubble burst that sent us into a tailspin due to our reliance on a credit-based system that didn’t produce anything of substance, as our manufacturing sector was replaced with digits pushed around computer monitors while we all recklessly lived beyond our means oblivious to the consequences. The girls, too, spent the better part of twenty-four years chasing the dragon, then upon catching it came to the shocking realization that they weren’t prepared for what would happen once they’d captured the mythical beast of their wants and desires. We see these through each of the four principal characters reaching their emotional, mental, professional, and marital breaking points.
Then, like America, they go to the Mid East under a flimsy pretense to distract themselves and everyone watching from the troubles back home.
Look out, Abu Dhabi. They’re coming to bring their sexual freedom and liberate your women politically, socially, and fashionably. The United States of Samantha, Charlotte, Miranda and Carrie.
It all goes so well at first. The girls get there and accomplish everything they set out to do and in quick order. They cannot believe their luck. Then, suddenly and without warning, the place turns on them. Well, suddenly and without warning to all but Charlotte, who is the lone voice of reason throughout their trip and this film. She cries, begs, and pleads with Carrie and Samantha not to engage in behaviors that could respectively sabotage a marriage and get them into legal trouble. Her appeals to their better angels are not only ignored but openly mocked and ridiculed. So Charlotte simply turns away from the disaster and urgently tries to touch base with home in order to address the situation there. Unfortunately, she gets no response and expresses frustration that all of her attempts to work with them while also keeping them informed of her plight in the Mid East are going unheard because they’re distracted by needy children and an Irish nanny’s gigantic bra-less knockers.
I could provide further examples, but that would simply spoil the film. And I don’t want to do that to you. I just want you to realize that this isn’t just another trite, poorly executed film that seemingly betrays its foundations in order to cash in on the promise of big box office returns. This clumsy farce is not simply a badly written train wreck of a film that includes plot turns and character developments so completely nonsensical that the characters cannot help but literally ask not only what is happening but why, followed by a completely unsatisfactory non-explanation. Nor is this a film that was so hastily made that actor John Corbett (“Aidan”) completely flubs a line and yet it still somehow manages to make it into the final cut (whoops).
No. This film is a metaphor for America. Nay, it IS America. It epitomizes, chastises, celebrates, castrates, falsely postulates, and shamelessly espouses the very things that gives the rest of the world the wrong impression of what we’re all about. But it does it so earnestly and with such a disarming lack of shame that after awhile you just throw your hands up and go “oh, America, I suppose you’ve always been this way and you’re never going to change, are you?”
Nope. Which his why it’s okay that “Sex and the City 2” is such a terrible film and an incredible waste of all of the criminally underutilized talent that appears on the screen. Because so is America. We could be so much better, and we could do so many great things with the resources at our disposal. But who gives a hoot? There’s a shoe stand on the streets of Abu Dhabi, and that Cosmo isn’t going to drink itself.
Let freedom ring.
- Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye…
- Listen to me LIVE as guest co-host of Alternative to Sleeping tonight at 10pm!
- Realtors: “WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH” George Hearst III: “NONONOO SSSSHHH IT’S OKAY, it’s okay…here. Here’s a pacifier.” Kristi: “#oops.”
- Open Mic web series premiere tonight @ Lark Tavern
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