I hate to end the week on such a depressing note, but since I can't seem to get my mind off this topic, I'm afraid I have no choice but to talk about Sex and the City 2. I went to see it yesterday morning in San Francisco. The reasons for this were A) it was raining, and B) my friend Alison had come up to the Bay Area to join me for the last leg of my book tour. We spent a fun evening yucking it up over dinner at the hotel bar (just like the SATC girls, except we only had two drinks each and our clothes were from Chico's and Old Navy) and the next day, since our flight back to L.A. wasn't until the afternoon, we decided to hit a 10am showing. We'd gone to the first one together and, before that, had spent many hours watching the television show together, so it seemed only right to continue the tradition.
Boy, was that six hours of my life I'll never get back. (Oh, wait... it's only two and a half hours, you say? Nonsense!) The reviews have been so uniformly eviscerating that it's nearly impossible to add anything new to the chorus of mockery and truly mind-blowing shock at just how bad a film can be. "Your watch will tell you that a shade less than two and a half hours have elapsed," A.O. Scott wrote in the New York Times, "but you may be shocked at just how much older you feel when the whole thing is over." Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post called it "an enervated, crass and gruesomely caricatured trip to nowhere — seems conceived primarily to find new and more cynical ways to abuse the loyalty of its audience."
Less diplomatically, Rex Reed in the New York Observer said, "The only thing memorable about Sex and the City 2 is the number two part, which describes it totally, if you get my drift."
My favorite observation so far comes from Lindy West of Seattle's alternative weekly paper The Stranger:
SATC2 takes everything that I hold dear as a woman and as a human — working hard, contributing to society, not being an entitled c*** like it's my job — and rapes it to death with a stiletto that costs more than my car. It is 146 minutes long, which means that I entered the theater in the bloom of youth and emerged with a family of field mice living in my long, white mustache. This is an entirely inappropriate length for what is essentially a home video of gay men playing with giant Barbie dolls.
I'd love to make a big, sweeping, overarching point here. I'd love to acknowledge all these quotes and then offer my own pithy yet totally original remarks as to just what made the film so unbearable and, moreover, what this particular brand of unbearability says about the current state of society. But I don't think I can. Some movies are just bad and that's all there is to say.
Like many others who are now picking their jaws off the floor at lines like "Lawrence of My Labia" (which, I'm sorry to admit, is almost clever compared to useless chestnuts like "We're not in Kansas anymore"), I was a fan of the television series. Not a hardcore fan but a B-plus-level fan. That's to say, I didn't become overly upset when I missed an episode, but I did make a point of gathering with friends to watch the last one. I never aspired to dress (or act or talk) like Carrie but there was something about some of her struggles — the tension of independence and commitment, the tug-of-war between an idealized version of city life versus the reality of life (not that her "reality" was ever that real) and the vagaries of maintaining a freelance writing career — that I related to just a little bit. Sure, the trimmings were fairy tale-like and so glittery as to be almost tacky (often, more than almost), but some of the girls' core issues had similarities to my own. Moreover, the show was often extremely well written. Not just by series creator Michael Patrick King but by a stable of smart, talented, funny female writers who seemed interested in cutting through the kitschy surface and getting to issues that were both real and too often unspoken. No surprise, none of these writers are in evidence here, either in the content or on the credits.
There wasn't much of that in the first Sex and the City movie and, needless to say, to call the sequel kitsch would be to demean to whole concept of kitsch. And for a movie featuring an epic gay wedding in which Liza Minnelli officiates, that's saying a lot.
And yet, once again, nothing.
Thanks, all, for indulging me this week. It's been fun.