Image Credit: Craig BlankenhornI was a little late catching up to Sex and the City 2 (late for a critic, that is — we tend to see things early), and by the time I wandered into a half-empty theater on Memorial Day, I was all but certain that I was going to be sitting down to watch this franchise jump the sapphire tiara. I’d read Lisa’s funny and elegant pan, and she, of course, wasn’t alone: This is one of those cases in which the nation’s critics spoke more or less with one voice — and what they said amounted to a big collective snarky raspberry. If you believed the reviews, then the whole Sex and the City kingdom, in a word, was over. Embarrassingly past its prime. These ladies were stuck in the late ’90s, and maybe they should have stayed there. The movie was Abu Dhabi doo-doo!
So when I tell you that I actually liked Sex and the City 2, please do me two favors. One, don’t ridicule me mercilessly (“Anyone who thinks this is a good movie simply isn’t qualified to be a critic, blah blah blah…”). And two, don’t say that I liked it merely because everyone else didn’t — that I’m so transparent and that I just had to be different, had to be an attention-getting maverick. Disagree with me, if you will, but do accept that I honestly dug Sex and the City 2.
Why? Two very quick reasons: I thought that the scenes with Carrie and Big had a nice, convincing, and — yes — subtle domestic flow to them. The couple weren’t fighting over that much: whether to go out on the town at night or to stay home, whether to have a giant TV in the bedroom so that they could cuddle up and watch old Hollywood romantic comedies (an activity that Big, significantly, seemed to prize a lot more than the post-black-and-white Carrie). To me, though, the relative quietude of the disagreement is exactly what made it believable; it captured how minor arguments between couples can reflect larger emotional divides, how rifts in pleasure can turn out to be rifts in values. Beyond that, I thought that the Abu Dhabi sequence, although 20 minutes too long (that, clearly, is where the film should have been liposuctioned), was funnier, more resonant, and more sustained than the Mexico sequence in the first movie.
But look: I’m not here to re-review Sex and the City 2. The critics have spoken — and, looking at the modest-to-mediocre box office grosses, so have audiences. I’m interested in what you think. It has been clear for over a week that the hatred for this movie is deep and wide and loud. So what I want to know is: Is there also any love? Is Sex and the City 2 anyone’s guilty pleasure, or is it simply my proud (if slightly goofy) pleasure?
And what about that next sequel, anyway? I have no doubt that going into this movie, Michael Patrick King, the witty and gifted modern-day screwball artisan who wrote and directed both films, believed that he had a winner on his hands. That, in fact, is where I think he made his biggest mistake: In SATC2, he sets up the Carrie/Big relationship so that the unconscious flaw in Carrie’s life is that, though she’s now married, she wants to go on acting single forever. What she’s avoiding, in a word (and this is right there in the movie – it’s not something I’m super- imposing on it), is the prospect of having children. And that’s what the movie should have at least pointed to by the end. King, however, obviously thought that he could save all of that Carrie-having-a-baby stuff for the next movie. He tried to stretch the franchise out like taffy. He may have stretched it until it broke.
I, for one, however, will go on the record and say: I am not tired of these ladies. I totally enjoyed Sex and the City 2 because I still relished the chance to bask in their quickness and silliness, their valor and confusion, their passion, their presence. I want to see what happens to them next…if there is a next.
So do you think there should be? Despite the official quasi-debacle of Sex and the City 2, who votes for having a Sex and the City 3? And what would you want to see happen in it? At the risk of sounding a little too much like Carrie Bradshaw: What happens when a blockbuster franchise…gets busted before it’s over?