As I sat in the darkened theatre, watching the SATC gang cavort on the big screen again, wearing completely nonsensical outfits (I don’t care what the so-called Fashion Experts say, the clothes that Sarah Jessica Parker wears as Carrie Bradshaw look like the dog’s breakfast) and spouting mostly unfunny dialogue (a joke about Charlotte’s camel toe right after she falls off a camel? Really?), I had to curb an urge to hurl my cupcake at someone/something. (Yes, movie reviewers sometimes get cupcakes. Be jealous.)
So, yes, I am not even going to front – this movie actually actively pissed me off. Lest I be accused of being a snobby wench who clearly doesn’t “understand” what the fans of the SATC franchise really want from their movie-going experience, let me assure you that my righteous and glorious anger is actually on behalf of those loyal fans. Indeed, for a movie ostensibly about female bonding and empowerment, it really did bring out my Raging Feminist Bitch side more than any overtly sexist film ever could.
Let’s get into it, shall we? The film opens with an unintentionally depressing gay wedding scene (seriously, the dance routine in the middle of it all made me want to cut myself), then not too long after that, the “girls” leave New York City on a luxurious, all-expenses paid vacay to the “new” Middle East (aka Abu Dhabi), courtesy of Samantha’s PR connections (side note: Kim Cattrall’s chin-lift is genuinely traumatizing).
It is easy to see why writer-director Michael Patrick King decided to move the main action to Abu Dhabi - he needed an exotic place that not many members of the audience have visited in real life. Reality is such a bummer these days, after all, and since King is clearly a sexist piggy who obviously loathes his mostly-female audience (down, feminist beotch, down), he sees nothing wrong with fully indulging their alleged need for extreme escapism. The level of materialism on display throughout this part of the movie is so over-the-top, I bet dollars to donuts that even the most shoe-obsessed ninnies in the crowd will feel slightly uncomfortable. It truly does give one the “no” feeling to watch Carrie and co. awkwardly interact with the personal butlers who come with the private suite in the exotic resort where they are staying – you can almost literally see the characters (or perhaps the actresses?) squirm under the weight of their white (wo)man’s burden.
In fact, this movie takes on heavy-weight topics like race, gender, money, class, aging, marriage, infidelity, child-rearing, international politics plus, of course, sex - and pretty much makes a mockery of it all. Now, it is clear that King and the studio executives were worried about just such a criticism, and they certainly make a lot of ham-fisted attempts at warding off the uppity critics, but it just adds insult to injury. For example, at one point, Carrie mentions that she kept her old apartment even though she and Big (Chris Noth) are obviously now living kind-of happily ever after in their new abode. Why would she do that, you ask? Well, mostly to give the film-makers an opportunity play into the nostalgia fans are supposed to feel when Carrie visits her old apartment, but also as a very insulting nod to the real estate woes brought on by the economic crisis, since, as Carrie says, “these last two years were obviously not a great time to sell an apartment in New York City.” The nefarious message underlying this apparent concession to tough times is that Carrie and Big looked at the state of NYC real estate and thought “Eff it, might as well keep two places because the economy sucks so badly and of course we can do that because we’re still so rich and you aren’t, wheeee!”
The real question is: why even bother bringing these heavy topics up if you’re not going to treat them with any kind of respect? (R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me). Why not just make an escapist, fluff-filled flick and leave it at that? Oh, I forgot – it’s because the TV show and the movies aren’t supposed to be just about the shoes and clothes, they are supposed to be edgy and empowering by virtue of giving voice to the supposedly unspoken realities of women’s lives, and by privileging female friendship above all else. SATC is supposed to have meaning and look fabulous at the same time, dang it!
In the end, though, this movie doesn’t do either thing well at all – it fails us as pure entertainment by pretending it’s more meaningful than your average chick flick and it most certainly fails us in a whole host of other ways, not the least of which is that it condescends to the audience repeatedly. But whatever, it’s mostly the fairer sex who will watch it, and we gals will apparently swallow just about anything in the name of a good time and/or to hold onto our glory days.