From the opening shots that make New York City look like the magical kingdom of Far, Far Away, to the grossly fabulous wedding with two grooms (and swans! and moats!) that’s celebrated with a performance of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” by ultimate diva, Liza Menelli, to an all-expenses paid trip to Abu Dhabi for Carrie and friends, “Sex and the City 2” is the ultimate adult female fairytale.* As Carrie so aptly explained to her best friend Charlotte’s daughter, “Yes, honey, It’s like Aladdin. But with cocktails.” Or as I realized halfway through watching the world premiere at Radio City Music Hall, This is “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” except the women are White. Most of the film takes places after the women hop on a private jet and head far, far East to spend a week in an enormous, beyond 5-star suite that runs $22,000 a night. Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda enjoy outlandish perks — personal butlers for each woman, camel-rides in couture through the Arabian dessert, and four chauffeur-driven Maybachs. And of course, there’s the uber-expensive high-fashion, changed in and out of as rapidly as possible to show off the sheer brilliance of the film’s celebrity stylist Patricia Field, one of the greatest artists alive. With all of the “fluff” on display (and admittedly there is a lot… and I loved it!), it’s easy for casual observers (i.e., undevoted fans) of the franchise to miss the film’s foundation, seeking an answer to one of Carrie’s famous questions: What happens after “I Do?” Twelve years after the first episode of “Sex and the City” aired on HBO, the foursome who helped revolutionize ideas of what it meant to be single, are mostly married (Samantha’s the holdout, surprise!). And like many former-single ladies, they too were oversold on the idea of a husband (and children) being “Happily Ever After.” Now three of our favorite friends are finding that they missed the fine-print on their marriage licenses: um, this ish ain’t easy. Carrie, used to being on the go, is bored as she and “Big” (aka Prince Charming) fall into a rut just two years into the marriage. He’s over running the streets while Carrie is still looking forward to chauffeured car service (modern-day chariot), reservations for dinner instead of cooking, and fancy parties at the Empire Hotel lounge (the ever-present ball at the palace — every fairytale has one.) Charlotte, a mommy of two, including the biological baby she always wanted, is overwhelmed by motherhood. Despite live-in help, the neediness of her toddler and her six-month old drive her to lock herself in a closet and cry… while her toddler continuously bangs on the door demanding “Mommy!” Miranda, a working mother, is finally fed up with the long hours, bosses who don’t appreciate her contributions, and missing the milestones in her son’s life. (Samantha, though she has no marriage troubles, is trying to avoid man-troubles by holding on to her sexy and her sex-drive past 50.) For women “of a certain age” as they call themselves in the movie, those are all very real problems. The solution: the ultimate all-girls getaway… for free. Does it get any better than that? Amid the luxury of Abu Dhabi (the scenery is breathtaking), each woman works out her issues — well, mostly. Charlotte has a tearful confession that despite putting up a front and loving her children, “being a mother is hard.” Miranda admits being a stay-at-home Mom and loving up her kid isn’t fulfilling enough and she needs to go back to work to keep her sanity. It’s practically blasphemy on the big screen for women to say this (hence the overwhelmingly negative male reaction to the film), but judging by the co-signing roars through the theater after those lines were spoken, a lot of women can relate to the sentiment. Samantha, the film’s comedic relief, goes on a search for her mojo much like Austin Powers in his first film. And Carrie? Let’s just say her quest to relieve boredom provides the ultimate drama for devoted followers of the SATC franchise. A friend overheard a straight man mumble “Oh, Carrie. What have you done?” summing up the audience reaction at the film’s most dramatic moment. “Sex and the City 2” isn’t perfect. Carrie and Big’s solution to re-igniting the spark in their marriage is the second dumbest thing I’ve heard. And Carrie’s continuous inability to grow up and think for herself when it comes to Big has baffled me for years. Then there was another moment of classic Carrie self-sabotage where I wanted to throw my popcorn at the big screen or go find “Dap” Dunlap and ask him to yell “Wake up!!!!” at her just like he did at the end of “School Daze.” Still, even with a few frustrating shortcomings, “SATC2” is decadent, dramatic, and kinda deep, too. I’m not embarrassed to say that I loved it entirely for being over-the-top, unrealistic, and shamelessly materialistic. It’s not a guide to living, it’s a fairytale starring Carrie Bradshaw instead Princess Jasmine. And yes, everyone lives happily, if unconventionally, ever after at the end. *Well, almost. The Black-girl fantasy would probably include Diana Ross on the mic and a trip to Ghana.
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