Right in the middle of George Cukor’s fabulous 1939 comedy The Women, the action stops for the main characters to take in a fashion show, as the movie switches from black and white to vibrant Technicolor. If that sequence ballooned out and took over the entire film, you might get something like Sex and the City 2, which amounts to little more than a two-and-a-half-hour plotless fashion show. At least in The Women, once the fashion show is over, the movie gets back to its razor-sharp dialogue and emotionally rich relationships. That ought to be the model for a movie like SATC 2, but writer-director Michael Patrick King (who also helmed the first movie, and was one of the main creative forces behind the SATC TV series) seems completely lost when it comes to sustaining interesting character dynamics or crafting clever, insightful things for bestselling author Carrie Bradshaw (Parker) and her gal pals Charlotte (Davis), Samantha (Cattrall) and Miranda (Nixon) to say.
King also can’t come up with anything for the four increasingly domesticated urban career women to do, and the bloated sequel plays more like the vacation footage of the wealthy than anything resembling a cohesive narrative. Once again, King is stuck in episodic-TV mode, so the movie opens with the episode about the gay-wedding weekend, followed by the episode about Carrie and new-ish husband Big (Chris Noth) contemplating giving their relationship a little space, and then, after an hour of this tedious throat-clearing, the special double-size episode about the ladies’ trip to Abu Dhabi, as touted in all the ads.
Toward the end of the obscene lifestyle-porn that is the Abu Dhabi trip, some actual events somehow stumble into the movie: Carrie encounters former flame Aidan (John Corbett), and the New York City fashion mavens shock (and inspire) various conservative Middle Easterners. This isn’t the right venue for political commentary, though, and even the one-time female-empowerment theme of the show has been muted by the characters’ embrace of tradition. When Carrie Bradshaw is singing the praises of being a homebody, it’s definitely time to move on.