A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this comedy, an extension of the HBO series beloved by adults (and teens thanks to DVDs and edited reruns in syndication), is a sequel to the first Sex and the City movie and features all the usual elements that made the show so famous: naughty jokes, serious label-dropping, and sex scenes (though slightly muted this time around). While essentially still a warm story about female friendship, this film layers on the familiar raunchiness, with Samantha driving the sexual humor through quips ("Lawrence of my labia!"), and two vigorous sex scenes that show thrusting male bottoms. Several close-ups of barely clothed body parts also make the cut; there's the braless nanny whose white shirt is accidently sprayed while giving kids a bath, providing a slow-motion wet T-shirt situation with fully revealed nipples; a poolside male rugby team gets some big-screen attention on their bathing suits; and in one scene, Samantha's date stands up with a full erection, much to the dismay of the traditionally clad Arab bystanders. Much is made of the Arab world's treatment of women and sexuality, and it's not handled very sensitively. There’s also some swearing ("f--k," "ass," etc.), social drinking that looks very glamorous, and heavy angsting about the three m’s: marriage, motherhood, and menopause.
What's the story?
Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) head to Abu Dhabi, where a sheik who might very well hire Samantha to launch his hotel welcomes them to his decadent -- butlers and chauffeured Maybachs for everyone -- property. They need the break, too: sweet Charlotte’s at wit’s end raising two daughters, one of whom won’t stop crying, ever; Miranda’s boss is a chauvinist of the 1950s order; Samantha’s battling menopause with hormones and a Suzanne Somers book; and Carrie’s fighting to maintain the “sparkle” in hers and Big’s (Chris Noth) marriage. They’re ready for Abu Dhabi, but is Abu Dhabi ready for them? And what happens when Carrie unexpectedly runs into Aiden (John Corbett)?
Is it any good?
HBO’s Sex and the City shifted mountains of paradigms, so it’s no wonder it’s considered groundbreaking; that’s why it’s such a disappointment to say that SEX AND THE CITY 2 is decidedly not. Though the foursome’s enduring friendship remains -- a mindful conversation between Miranda and Charlotte about motherhood recalls the show’s best sisterhood moments -- there’s not much here that’s particularly radical. In fact, it feels like the women -- Carrie especially -- have all taken a step back. Are we to sympathize with a Carrie who complains about a husband who’d rather cuddle and watch old movies than work the scene at an overheated club? (This, by the way, is the man she yearned to see settle down.)
Are we to believe that Samantha would now envy a twentysomething nanny? That they’d pick a Helen Reddy song to sing karaoke at an Abu Dhabi bar? That Carrie, a writer, doesn’t know what a souk is? The film is all sorts of tin-eared, from its relentless consumerism (after a quick nod to the recession); annoying quips (“Lawrence of the labia”); and appalling arrogance about other cultures, to its insistence that we care about women who once seemed wise and bold but who now, alas, seem sad.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the lifestyles of the famous and fabulous foursome: How do they afford all those clothes and fancy furniture? If you had as much money as they do, how would you spend your money? Can you imagine spending $22,000 per night on a hotel? What do you think Carrie's butler thinks about the foursomes' spending habits? What message was the movie trying to send by telling the butler's story?
What are Carrie’s feelings about marriage? Do they seem realistic? Do you have empathy for Carrie's situation? Why or why not?
How does the film handle the cultural differences between America and the Arab world? Did you notice any stereotyping? What are your feelings about the movie's approach?
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