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Massawyrm says that SEX AND THE CITY 2 might be why the terrorists hate us

Hola all. Massawyrm here. If there is anything that can be said about SEX AND THE CITY 2, it is that it is not nearly as unspeakably awful as the first one. While I still argue that any film that threatens to go longer than two and a half hours should involve midgets throwing rings into volcanoes or ten foot tall dragon-riding aliens fighting a thinly veiled metaphor for the military industrial complex, this version of SATC didn’t make me crave so badly to put a bullet through the back of my own skull just to make it all stop. It’s still not a very good movie. The problem I’m having dissecting it, however, is that I can’t figure out if Writer/Director Michael Patrick King is truly inept as an artist or being mind-bogglingly brilliant by selling women their big summer-sisterhood film all the while simultaneously satirizing them and making them look like fools for gobbling it up. Either way, never in the history of modern cinema has a man been so badly in need of a forceful and honest editor as King. He has thus far made two films, totaling 290 minutes without so much as a single plot to split between the two of them. While this one is somewhat more cohesive than the first – the first being an incredibly episodic foray into extremely lowbrow scatological humor, ranging from emotionally scarring pubic hair gags to a cast member shitting herself – this film is no less incoherent. This time their meandering collection of subplots has a decided direction – that being the girls adventures in Abu Dhabi. King’s storytelling method is one of taking his four heroines, giving them each an equally mundane subplot to wrestle with and navel gaze over, spread it thinly over TWO AND A HALF HOURS, only to systematically have them resolved almost inconsequentially in a rapid (and vapid) Carrie Bradshaw voice over at the end. Make no mistake; this is glorified fan service. Each of the four stereotypes in the film (the naïve one, the uptight professional, the oversexed one and the lifestyle obsessed writer) get an equally unoriginal problem to wallow in while they dress in increasingly hideous, garish outfits that are often a pair of size twenty-two shoes away from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey collections. But the series has run aground of a very real problem in comedy. Built entirely upon the “isn’t that shocking/oh, it’s positively scandalous/teeheeheeheehee” ideal, the show exhausted pretty much everything the creators could come up with, leading to the first SATC’s inclusion of such base, unimaginatively crass attempts to shock the audience. Having drained that well dry, all that they have left in their bag of tricks is to take these girls out of the city and dump them smack dab in the middle of the single most conservative culture on the planet…to offend them. And this is where I get confused. The women make complete and utter asses of themselves here, proving to be nothing more than the stereotypical ugly Americans, ogling their man servants, saying offensive things in the company of others, even going so far as to initiate heavy petting in an open air restaurant – only to be shocked that the local customs are so inflexibly conservative. Their insensitivity in scenes is staggering and occasionally used as comedy…but not in the way you’d think. This film seems to operate under the assumption that the audience of this film will be filled entirely with ethnocentric, “open minded” simpletons that will be offended by the customs of the Middle East and enjoy watching the girls brazenly offend people of another culture. When all is said and done they are all but run out on a rail, and I couldn’t help but smile, very satisfied to see these girls ultimately get their comeuppance before being treated to a halfhearted burka gag and a hastily wrapped up ending. That’s when I had to scratch my head. The audience was eating this up – they loved it – but the women were being made to look like hapless fools. Sure, they toast themselves as strong women and blame half of their subplots problems on sexist men who can’t handle strong women – I shit you not – but then they each fall into the trap of being completely oblivious, witless tools who each earns the shitty hand they are dealt. Any rational person paying attention would have an impossible time sympathizing with these women. The lawyer has an abusive new male boss who she believes treats her badly because she’s a woman, but has mysteriously never heard the words “sexual harassment”. Protagonist Carrie Bradshaw has written a new book on marriage that gets savaged in a review, which, despite the fact that she understands not one thing about marriage, she blames on the male writer not liking her because she’s a woman. And the oversexed one does things publicly that would get you arrested in the most liberal state in the union, but uses it as an excuse to point out how repressive Middle Eastern culture is - because really, they're the problem. It feels like it is genuine, honest to god satire made for an audience too dim to understand that they are the butt of the joke. Adding to the confusion, the film really, truly, seems to know what it is. Just as the film’s opening sequence – a gay wedding – goes from gaudy to downright silly as Liza Minnelli pops out to perform a Beyoncé song, and every critic in the audience grabs their notepad to scribble down the phrase “just when you thought the movie couldn’t get any gayer”, the movie swoops in and makes every gay joke you could possibly make – up to and including making a JEFFREY reference (the greatest gay film ever made without the words Brokeback, Mountain or Hedwig in the title.) Every time it is obviously pandering to its audience, it is smart enough to diffuse any chances at taking a crack at it by making the joke itself. It’s not brainless, which makes me wonder just how oblivious King really is about the staggering lack of self-awareness these characters have, and how unaware his audience is about it. He is either a functionally incompetent filmmaker, or an underhanded genius giving women everything they want, while cattily whispering to his friends how ignorant they are. I’m not sure exactly what to make of it, but either way, it’s not good. It just happens to be a hell of a lot more tolerable than the girls’ last outing. Entirely devoid of the Frat Comedy style gross-outs, the film returns to the shows roots of being overtly sexual, finding a few places to still offend the sensibilities of most audiences. But without anything resembling an engrossing narrative, it is impossible to see this as anything more than inserted tired, weak characters into what few situations someone can think of that they haven’t been seen in. And it doesn’t work. But fans of the show may like it better than the last.
Until next time friends, Massawyrm
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