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Gorgeous clothing and the Sex & the City characters are the only saving graces of the new, ridiculous fluffy film.
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★★✩✩✩

Sex & the City 2

Directed by Michael Patrick King

Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin David, and Cynthia Nixon

Rated R

This is not the type of movie you see unless you’re genuinely interested in the characters. Sure, it seems to have all the makings of a fun girl movie; unlike such series as The Lord of the Rings, where knowledge of the books is a nice supplement but completely unnecessary for appreciation of the films themselves. Some prior exposure to Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha is a definite prerequisite for any real appreciation of the Sex and the City film series.

But given said exposure, and a certain tolerance for the brand of corniness present in all chick flicks, Sex and the City 2 is actually okay. Far from perfect, often excessive, and possessed with more than a few failed jokes — it is also enjoyable and overall pretty funny to fans of the original television series. The film begins two years after the last film left off, at the very, very gay wedding of Carrie and Charlotte’s two best gay friends: Stanford and Anthony. It’s a funny scene that borders on superfluous both in length and in stereotyping — Liza Minnelli cameos singing “Single Ladies” at the reception — but Stanford is one of the most feminine male characters on television.

Next, we are introduced to all the new (and old) drama plaguing the four friends’ lives as they each live out their very different situations and continue to pour their hearts out to each other. Carrie is dealing with her and Big’s — the man she finally wed in the last film — very different conceptions of married life, Miranda’s having problems at work, Samantha’s in the midst of menopause, and Charlotte’s finding parenting much harder than she lets on. This sequence of the girls just being themselves in New York is the most real part of the film, the part that makes me glad producers decided to take Sex and the City to the big screen.

But the real adventures start when the girls are shipped off to Abu Dhabi for an all-expenses-paid vacation courtesy of an Arab sheikh Samantha’s doing PR for. I have rather mixed feelings about this surprise luxury vacation. On the one hand, it seems far too unrealistic and provides one too many awkward situations clashing conservative Arab culture with the girls’ excessiveness. But, on the other hand, it’s amusing watching the girls be themselves in such a drastically different environment, and there are enough stand-out moments to draw my attention away from the ones that flop. By far, one of the funniest scenes of the film involves Samantha lamenting that without her hormonal drugs — which were confiscated upon arrival in Abu Dhabi — she feels no desire for sex even in the presence of attractive speedo-clad Australian men at the hotel’s pool.

Sex and the City’s biggest appeal has always been twofold — its high style and its ability to relate to women everywhere. Beyond dealing with the issues of marriage and menopause, which plenty of women appreciate in themselves, this sequel is about the broader issue of love and the sacrifices that love is worth. Carrie’s emotional crisis when she runs into former flame Aiden is sincere and the drama that ensues genuinely interesting, despite how ridiculous it is that they ran into each other in a street market halfway across the world from New York. And of course, the style is superb. The girls have always been fashion risk-takers, particularly Carrie, and it’s certainly fun to see their choice of wardrobe in such an exotic setting.

So be warned: Sex and the City 2 does not meet my criteria for a good movie, and even those in the mood for a fun love movie will likely not find it up to par. But (thankfully!) the appeal of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha themselves holds even through the most outlandish parts of the film. And after all, these four were never known for their subtlety.