Whether “Sex and the City 2” marks the first time the four friends have actually sung “I Am Woman” at karaoke is a matter for scholars of the TV-show-turned-movie-series. The important thing is that they sing it here, while vacationing in an Arab country, thus making a bold statement on behalf of international women’s rights.
At least I think that’s what going on in this daft movie. It’s not always easy to tell what writer-director Michael Patrick King and his lusty band of ladies are up to in this sequel, which supplements the usual Manhattan fashion parade with an extended sidetrip to Abu Dhabi.
Before we get there, let’s check in with the central quartet. With various life changes, including the long-awaited marriage of Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) to Mr. Big (Chris Noth) at the end of the first movie, some grown-up issues are inevitably present.
Carrie faces the possibility of marriage settling into a routine. Samantha (Kim Cattrall) must endure hot flashes — and not the kind she was accustomed to having before menopause.
Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) needs to deal with a chauvinist boss and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) must cope with a child who puts red ink all over her vintage cream-colored Valentino dress. In other words, issues that women everywhere confront.
Then Samantha gets a lavish business trip to Abu Dhabi, and the other three tag along.
The oddball location gives the occasion for some “Midnight Express” jokes, a few jabs at repression in a conservative society and Carrie’s observation that women who eat french fries through a face veil are demonstrating a serious commitment to fried food.
I guess the filmmakers thought that putting the brazenly liberated “Sex and the City” gals in a land where sex is hidden and the genders occupy different social stations might generate some electricity. But “South Park” this ain’t.
Like the first movie, “SATC 2” stretches out to 2 1/2 hours, and ignores the formulaic shape of most big films. In a strange way I like this about it: King and Co. are so confident of their fan base, they pay no heed to the usual rules.
Instead, the movie is a shapeless series of conversations, wardrobe changes and more leering one-liners than a Friar’s Club roast.
The women are allowed to mug shamelessly, especially Cattrall and Davis; Cynthia Nixon comes off best. The big news for fans involves the return of cast member John Corbett, who figured prominently in a TV storyline.
It’ll be interesting to see whether fans take the Abu Dhabi trip (actually filmed in Morocco) in stride, since the franchise is so associated with New York. Because the movie hits so many familiar, reassuring notes, I suspect they’ll be pleased with the result.
But where to next, given the unexpected geopolitical spin of this installment?
Will the ladies donate Chanel gowns to Haiti, or arrange their shoes in a line across the Gulf of Mexico oil slick? Hear them roar.
“Sex and the City 2”
A big-screen sequel for the shoe-loving quartet, who decamp Manhattan for a daft trip to Abu Dhabi, where they run afoul of the repressive culture — no, seriously, that’s what happens. There’s also plenty of time for fabulous fashions and more leering one-liners than a Friar’s Roast. Sarah Jessica Parker leads the cast.
Rated: R for language, subject matter, nudity.
Showing: Alderwood, Cinebarre, Everett, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood, Guild 45th, Pacific Place, Thornton Place, Uptown, Woodinville, Cascade Mall.