The fabulous foursome – Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) – become Ugly Americans when screenwriter/director Michael Patrick King plops them in Abu Dhabi, breaking Muslim laws and abusing Arabic hospitality.
Two years after Carrie married Mr. Big (Chris Noth), she’s become a whining shrew. Stressed-out Miranda is chafing at her boss’s chauvinism. Distraught mother Charlotte is dismayed when her perfect Irish nanny (Alice Eve) bra-lessly flaunts her lucky charms. And public-relations guru Samantha is battling menopause at 52. So when an admiring sheik offers Samantha and her Manhattan friends a luxurious vacation in exotic Abu Dhabi, they board his private jet with hedonistic alacrity, toting tons of sexy, glamorous Chanels, Diors, Lanvins, Ralph Laurens, Christian Laboutin shoes and glitzy ‘bling,’ thanks to stylist Patricia Field.
After enduring economic hardship, Samantha coos, “We need to go somewhere RICH!” Channeling “Aladdin,” Carrie envisions the Middle East “just like Jasmine…but with cocktails.” It’s a decadent Abu-Dhabi-Doo, Bed, Bath and Bedouin adventure. If this were just flamboyant escapism fantasy, that would be fine, but the frolicking, self-indulgent, privileged fashionistas, particularly Samantha, so blatantly mock local mores and trivialize customs that that must don burquas to escape.
Don’t get me wrong. The United Arab Emirates has major faults: antipathy to Jews (Charlotte reverts to York, her maiden name, rather than reveal her married name of Goldenblatt) and repression of women (a big musical number finds them defiantly warbling Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” at a karaoke club). But when one decides to go to the UAE, its culture must be respected, and flippant, frivolous filmmakers are not welcome. So shooting actually took place in Morocco, where they should have set the frothy story.
As a celebration of female friendship, despite diverting cameos from Penelope Cruz, Miley Cyrus and Liza Minelli, officiating at a campy, gay Connecticut wedding, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Sex and the City 2” is an overly long, superficial, shallow 6. Their closets have been updated but not their sensitivity.