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Sex and the City 2: Sexist Reviews, O.K. Show.

by Meredith O'Brien


*Warning, minor Sex and the City 2 spoilers ahead*


Okay, so it wasn’t as bad as ALL THAT. It wasn’t Glitter for God’s sake. Geez film reviewers, hate much?


As I stepped into the theater to plunk my hard-earned cash onto the counter to pay for admission to see Sex and the City 2 [1], I carried in my head the brutal reviews I’d read in newspapers and online journals lampooning the latest frolic featuring the four pampered ladies of Manhattan as they embarked on a well-heeled platinum jaunt to Abu Dhabi.


One review in my local newspaper [2] set the tone for me before I even set foot in the movie house. The writer observed, “. . . [T]he once-fab foursome of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte have gone from confident and independent 30-something women to neurotic, self-indulgent middle-aged shrews.” Just for fun, I looked up the definition of the word “shrew” in my dictionary; it read, “a nagging, evil-tempered woman.”


A writer for Salon [3] took out his knife and hacked away: “This bloated, incoherent movie mimics a SATC episode in structure -- vague social relevance at the beginning and the end, conspicuous consumption in the middle -- with virtually none of the wit or panache, and seems devoted to destroying our affection for these characters . . . Big is something else, a shambling, half-dead ghoul enslaved to a demonic harridan.” My dictionary defined “harridan” as: “a nasty, bad-tempered old woman.” FYI, Carrie Bradshaw is in her 40s.


Okay, so I, personally, was not a fan of the trip to Abu Dhabi thing or the karaoke number the foursome did while at a posh Middle Eastern resort where they sang the 70s feminist anthem “I Am Woman.” (Cringe-inducing given the paucity of women’s rights in that region, but this is escapist fantasy, right?) I also wasn’t especially fond of the too-long wedding sequence at the beginning. However I didn’t expect SATC to be all dark and twisty and plumb the depths of my soul for the meaning of marriage, commitment and long-term romance. I expected sheer fluff and ridiculously out of touch clothing that I not only cannot afford but most of which I wouldn’t wear if all the clothing I owned had been set on fire.


But for some reason, when middle-aged male actors star in an unrealistic guys-go-on-a-caper thing, reviewers don’t seem as cuttingly vicious – and as deeply personal -- as they’ve been about the women in this film (about which one writer [4] quipped “threatens to border on the shtick of “Menopause: The Musical”). Truth be told, Sex and the City 2 was fairly bad, but fun-bad, not walk-out-of-the-theater-and-demand-your-money-back bad. The group of women who attended the same matinee as me seemed to have a good time while watching it together.


Which brings me to the mom part of this movie review: Miranda (who has a second grader and was having difficulties striking a reasonable work/life balance with a hard-driving boss demanding that she work an insane schedule and miss all her son’s school events) and Charlotte (who has a 2-year-old and a 4- or 5-year-old daughter and was overwhelmed by her toddler’s all-day-every-day crying) seemed more flesh and blood than Carrie and Samantha, without having to flash their flesh.


“Being a mother kicks your ass,” Miranda complained to Charlotte over drinks when Carrie and Samantha were elsewhere. Trying to coax Charlotte into some maternal truth-telling, Miranda confessed that “as much as I love Brady . . . being a mother is not enough.” Miranda said she needed work to make her feel whole.


This prompted at-home mom Charlotte -- who adopted her first daughter Lily after a long, emotionally bruising bout with infertility treatments, and who considered her pregnancy with her daughter Rose a minor miracle – felt guilty about complaining and about the fact that she was reveling in her time away from the girls, on a much-needed break from motherhood and Rose’s crying. “They’re driving me crazy,” Charlotte said. “I feel like I’m failing all the time.”


The biggest laugh in the theater where I saw SATC 2 came when Miranda and Charlotte marveled at how mothers without childcare/household help can make it through the rigors of parenthood and still remain sane. (I’m guessing the women who laughed aloud, including yours truly, are the poor saps who lack said help.)


Twice during the film, columnist/author Carrie was asked whether she and Big, an affluent Wall Street businessman, would ever have kids. “We’ve talked about it a lot,” she said. “We both love kids, but it’s not for us.” Once, the fact that they didn’t want children made them the object of pity and blank stares. This could’ve been a very interesting jumping off point, examining the societal pressure placed upon people to procreate, but, alas, this wasn’t that kind of a movie.


Bottom line: If you go see this over-the-top, junk-food-binge of a film, bring a friend, or two, and expect to laugh, not be treated to reviewer-friendly performances. Expect it to be good-bad, like a reality show. You’ll be happier that way.

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