Rated R/146 min.
Three out of Five Stars
Two years ago, I appeared for the first time on “The Ed and Greg Show” on Wild 105.5 (“Hawaii’s Party Station!”) and spoke with the morning crew about summer movies. The first question I got was from a co-anchor who wanted to address the three-star review I gave the first Sex and the City movie. Just moments after meeting him for the first time, he asked me, live on the air, if I had a vagina. His classy question caught me off guard, but I guess he had a point: I’m not the target audience for this movie. Yet I enjoyed the TV series and thought the spinoff film was better and smarter than expected. When I heard a sequel was in the works I had my doubts; as with many follow-ups, it sounded like a dubious, unnecessary cash grab.
From the first scene, this is neither a repeat of the first film nor an over-extended episode from the series. Instead, we’re reunited with the now-married author Carrie Prescott (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her best friends (played with giggly gusto by Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrell and Cynthia Nixon) at a spectacular gay wedding. Within 10 minutes, the movie declares its lavish, campy intentions as Liza Minelli—backed by look-alike dancers—belts out Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies.” The guys in the audience may squirm at the estrogen-fueled opening, but they’ll be rewarded with a hilarious running gag involving Davis’s ridiculously curvy nanny and the hypnotic effect her bra-less outfits have on men.
The story takes the four leads on a business trip to Morocco and gives the audience something refreshingly different in terms of locale and story. Yes, the gals are still working out relationship problems and extra-marital temptations, but we get a travelogue of Abu Dhabi, a glimpse of a different culture and an approach that even long-time fans of the TV series will find surprising. I love sequels like this: rather than rehash the first installment, it goes in a fresh new direction.
Parker, looking beautiful but overly bronzed, still has crack comic timing, while Davis is as adorable as ever and Nixon is still a spitfire. But the movie belongs to Cattrall, who goes for broke and manages to make sex-crazed Samantha both humorously vulnerable and positively noble. There are also some amusing celebrity cameos, though the movie misses an opportunity by bringing the exceptional Penelope Cruz in for just one scene.
The pace is fast and the whole thing is so much fun, the 146-minute running time flies by. On the down side, a lot of plot threads are left dangling. Most inexcusably, the filmmakers bring back Smith, the reformed lothario played by Jason Lewis whose relationship with Samantha was a series highlight, but drop him after he enters the story.
Only near the end, after a couple of mix-ups and demonstrations of bad behavior by American tourists, does it get overly silly. The first film had more heart, but here’s a sequel that is funnier, maybe even better than the original. And no, I don’t have a vagina.