Monday, May 31, 2010

SATC2: From characters to cartoons and buffoons

I knew it would be bad. The first movie was fluff, and downgraded the characters I liked in 30 minute segments to caricatures. But the movie was a chance to see the "girls" again. As every woman I know who liked the HBO series, "Sex and the City" was, at its heart, a look at soul-sisters. The shoes, clothes and men were just eye candy and escapism.

I couldn't understand the vitriol in the reviews I was reading. OF COURSE it would be bad. Nobody expects much more than friends, men and shoes. Why waste your time and energy reviewing this?

And then I saw the film, and I got it.

I walked out of "Sex and the City 2" SHOCKED. There was a point where I turned to my friend and uttered the words "wildly offensive."

As Matt Zoller Seitz titled his review so perfectly: THIS is why they hate us. In his words:

The movie's privileged cluelessness reaches an early zenith when Miranda impulsively quits her cushy job at a law firm because her boss is sexist, and springs the decision on her husband (David Eigenberg) during her son's grade school recital. "Good for you, honey!" he exclaims. "I'll get another job, a better job!" she assures him. "I already called the headhunter." They should have ended the scene by having a giant bag of money fall out of the sky and land at her feet.

Very rarely, if ever, do the characters, much less the filmmaker, suggest that they're all living in a bubble -- which is something that even the most wealth-obsessed escapist comedies produced during the Depression somehow managed to do with regularity, as a means of preserving their implicit agreement not to take the masses' hard-earned money and slap them across the face with it.

Never does "Sex and the City 2" acknowledge, even obliquely, that what Carrie and her pals consider "normal" and "comfortable" is not only foreign to the existence of 99% of the population, but that it might in fact be a sign of obscene excess, the spiritual equivalent of carrying around 200 extra pounds -- mountains of fat produced by an unhealthy upbringing and an addictive, soul-dead, self-loathing mindset, fat that cannot be characterized as a matter of genetic destiny no matter how desperately the afflicted person tries to rationalize it as such. When I watch these women sashay through their designer-labeled lives, I don't see escapism: I see pools of bloody runoff gathered in the gutters of a diner's grill. That shit'll kill you.

Do I even need to describe the scene where Samantha shakes handfuls of condoms in the faces of Muslim men while thrusting her hips and shrieking "YES! I have SEX!" I would have walked out then, but I knew the 2 hours and 35 minutes were almost over, and I was curious how it would end.

But what might scare me the most, was that the audience around me (minus my two horrified friends) were laughing and clapping through the entire scene.

As Seitz writes:

At the same time, though, much like "Transformers 2" (hmmm, "Sex" director Michael Patrick King as the gay camp version of Michael Bay -- or is that a redundancy?), "Sex and the City 2" is more than harmless escapism. It's an accidental candid snapshot of the sick, dying heart of America.
(Read the full review here.)

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