Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 28 May 2010
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
I knew there’d be trouble when I saw the camels.
This long-awaited SATC sequel, an over-the-top, contrived fantasy with a limitless budget, has fashion’s fab four awash in mini crises that begin in New York City and follow them all the way to Abu Dhabi. That’s right, the United Arab Emirates – as in veiled women; as in illegal displays of public affection; as in total sexual repression.
The girls all need a getaway from their dreary high-powered lives, full of designer clothes, premieres, lunch dates, housekeepers and nannies. One is provided courtesy of a sheik intent on showing off his five-star hotel to PR superstar Samantha (Kim Cattrall) who is responsible, after all for former lover Smith Jared’s (Jason Lewis) mega-successful film career. Samantha agrees to an all-expenses paid week, provided her three best girlfriends can come along.
Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is free; she’s just quit her job to escape a woman-hating, belittling senior partner. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is ready; she’s worried that her marriage to Mr. Big (Chris Noth) – (character name John James Preston) – is losing its sparkle and fading into a comfortable complacency which includes talk of “space.” Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is willing; her kids are a handful, and so are her nanny’s braless breasts. She, too, decides to get away from it all - 6700 miles away.
Did I mention that 52-year old Samantha’s going through menopause and taking 44 pills a day in an effort to stave off the inevitable beard? I’d better get that out of the way quickly, because that’s all there is to Samantha this time around.
But before all this happens we must have a great big gay wedding. Series regulars Stanford Blatch (Willie Garson) and Anthony Marentino (Mario Santone) take the plunge into matrimony, complete with show tunes, swans, and Carrie as the tuxedoed Best Woman. The whole swanky/swishy affair is officiated by that reigning queen of queens, Liza Minnelli. I kid you not. And that’s just the launch pad for the lunacy to come.
Abu Dhabi (actually Morocco) is another over-the-top, ostentatious setting, presumably for the target audience to swoon and envy the luxurious lifestyle with ooh’s and aah’s. There’s the $22,000 a night suite, the four personal butlers, four personal chauffeurs, the private jet, the shopping spree… You know, all the stuff that usually happens on a vacation – in a daydream.
Abu Dhabi Samantha is a running gag, hormone deficient, hot flash filled, losing her libido and then finding it again on the hood of a Jeep. Can’t you just see the contrivance of getting someone like her into a country where women are not even allowed to drive? Instant conflict, only this time the joke’s on Samantha, and we laugh at her not with her. How sad. The character’s too strong to be felled by such nonsense and any credibility she had as a rogue “manizer” is negated by her neediness and kvetch-filled histrionics.
Abu Dhabi Carrie doesn’t fare much better; the script even incorporates her familiar scream into a scene, for no reason other than that was always a recognizable trademark of hers. It’s still as irritating as her penchant for needless confession to the men in her life. This time it occurs after running into former fiancé Aidan (John Corbett) in a spice market (don’t ya hate when that happens) and sharing a kiss at a subsequent dinner. She simply MUST tell Big, even though they’re having marital problems. And she’s supposed to be a relationship expert.
Miranda and Charlotte do get to have an all-too-brief scene unloading tales of motherhood and its rigors that makes for one of the most relatable moments in the film. Still, both of them can afford full-time domestic help so the viewer must take a few steps back into reality after coming dangerously close to commiseration.
There are more Abu Dhabi adventures for the ladies to share, some of them silly, some slapstick, and some downright insulting. The beloved HBO series featured unique ways for liberated sexuality to fill the small screen, freed from censorship by virtue of its cable status. Here, the gags are played for vulgar shock value confusing female empowerment with horny, lowbrow appetites. Disappointing when you stop to think that we started out knowing these women as savvy, sophisticated New Yorkers.
Sarah Jessica Parker portrays a bitchier Carrie than I remember, bordering on nag and capable of surprising verbal barbs. Kim Cattrall must really need work to trash Samantha’s persona with such vigor. Kristin Davis keeps Charlotte in a state of 1. surprise or 2. outrage. Both require wide eyes and a panicked expression. All the time. Cynthia Nixon continues to portray Miranda with a down to earth sensibility that seems out of place in the obscene opulence of it all.
Chris Noth and John Corbett are welcome anchors in the flighty proceedings, but neither of them can combat the excessive consumption, the clown-like wardrobes, and the ferocious race to “fabulous” that the women seem to be in.
Writer/Director Michael Patrick King makes the mistake of thinking that more is always better, and that excess is best. Fans loved the glamorous, cosmopolitan settings of the four New York fashionistas they followed for years. Here, he turns that up 1000 percent, along with Samantha’s libido, Charlotte’s fears, and Carrie’s insecurities. Miranda it seems is just along for the (camel) ride, but it wouldn’t be the same without her.
I suppose die-hard fans will make the case for escapism, but even that can be achieved without the slapstick and forced humor that King hands us in lieu of the snappy, clever dialogue, camaraderie and chic, urban lifestyle trappings that the series showcased so well.
So ultimately the four women wind up in billowing Dior couture on camels, Carrie with spikes so high she could strike oil. I don’t think even a wealthy country like Abu Dhabi has enough money to buy that.