24 August 2010 | bob the moo
Gaudy, superficial, tasteless, overlong, offensive, and full of missed potential and bad ideas
I watched the first film as someone who had only ever casually watched the show and didn't really care to do more than that. The first film didn't get the wit of the show but did try to have a bit of substance to it in some regards, even if it didn't work. The second film feels like someone has taken the decision that this should be more of an "event" than a film so instead of worrying too much about story and characters, what we should have is just an endless OTT parade of wealth. Very much like the wedding that opens it, the film is constantly excessive, gaudy and unnecessary. Some will love it for this as some sort of guilty pleasure but I'm not sure if it is what fans or casual viewers will warm to.
My understanding of the show was that, while it did have the wealthy and free of the NYC fashion world as its main characters, it did keep itself connected to reality for the majority of viewers so that, while some of it was big city fantasy, it did still have a realism and wit in regards friendships and relationships that viewers could relate to. There is none of that in this film, instead the characters (themselves living in comfort and wealth) are granted access to a world of extreme luxury that takes them far from reality and makes them pretty unlikeable and patronising for the majority of the time. In terms of plot there is not a lot going on. Each character has their own little thread and mostly they amount to very little since the majority of the time is spent with them enjoying their luxury. There are some smaller moments of potential (Miranda and Charlotte being honest about motherhood with one another) that are good but they are lost in the luxury and the long run time as our characters just run from one glamorous location to another.
Anything that is close to a plot is handled badly whether it be a device or a relationship theme. The loss of Carrie's passport is "put out there" in the middle of the film only to be resolved within seconds and used for a terribly pointless conclusion. Her relationship quandary (about not seeing her husband a few days a week) is nonsense (since she has issues with it the day before jetting off for weeks) and is also discussed in the most patronising way, with Carrie drawing from the example of her private butler having joy in only seeing his wife once a month (missing that he can only do this because he has to work all the time, serving people like Carrie, as opposed to it being a relationship choice). The thing about the nanny goes nowhere and is resolved with a piece of throwaway titillation (excuse the pun) that is as vapid as the character.
Although the majority of viewers will not be offended by it, it has to be said that SaTC2 is an incredibly insensitive film considering where it was made. In principle I have no issue with the "these women are just like us" message but when it is made in as clunky and unrealistic manner as it is in this film then it is hard not to scoff at it. Likewise the constant suggestion that the women of the Middle East are oppressed is badly done and only made worse by having Western "liberation" "celebrated" by having Samantha wearing a revealing outfit, simulate sexual intercourse in a crowd of men heading to morning prayers – I'm really not sure what part of that scene was not designed to cause religious offense.
The cast go with it but outside of the brief moments some of them get to be characters (eg discussing motherhood) none of them do anything of note. Much has been said of Parker's looks that is unfair and irrelevant to the film – her job as an actress is not to physically appeal to the viewer. However, it is hard to overlook this aspect when the film spends so much time troweling her in makeup to the point where she looks ridiculous. Her narration musings are so superficial that her delivery only sounds the same. Cattrall tries to be the Samantha she always was but it doesn't work and the material misses the chance to do anything smart or progressive with her; she is also hurt by having the lions' share of the culturally and religiously insensitive material and having to sell it as her being "right". Davis and Nixon have even less to do than these two, which is a shame because they both come over as the more natural and realistic of the four. The male cast are again mostly plot devices, although I thought that Noth's Big was a better character than normal – although maybe I just felt sorry for his situation here? SaTC2 doesn't have the decency to be a car-crash of a film, the sort of thing that you watch aghast, but nor is it any good whatsoever. It is gaudy, superficial, overlong, offensive, and full of missed potential and bad ideas. Removed from the City of the title and placed into a world of extreme opulence the film also pushes the fantasy so far that it prevents any meaningful connection for the casual viewer (which the show used to be able to do). I doubt that even fans of the show will be happy with this film.