REVIEW: Sex and the City four indulged on big screen

I was all pumped to hate this but I have to admit, it was surprisingly painless. I even laughed

Sex And The City 2 (15.) Directed by Michael Patrick King. Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, Kirsten Davis, Chris Noth. 146 mins. **

I was all pumped to hate this but I have to admit, it was surprisingly painless. I even laughed a couple of time. The SATC fan I brought along rated it a slight step up from the first film, at least in terms of being a bit funnier.

There is perhaps no field of human endeavour where the race is failing so consistently and so spectacularly than the production of romcoms and though I understand that this isn't strictly a romcom, as an entertainment aimed at women it seems to be streets ahead of the field.

The audience has such a huge unquestioning affection for the four characters that writer/ director King doesn't have to worry about plot or organisation - he can just let the movie ramble on. Much like the Carry On team, fans will happily indulge it as long as everybody does their trademark bit.

(Of course the other main feature of Carry On films was voluptuous young members of one sex throwing themselves at decrepit and unattractive members of the opposite sex, so this whole Carry On film/ SATC analogy doesn't really hold water, does it?)

Much of the time is taken up with a trip to Abu Dhabi which I assume to be some kind of epic piece of product placement ("Dubai is finished," we are told by the Sheikh who sets up the trip.) It's a strange move taking SATC out into the Middle East and the cultural exchange isn't wholly successful. Though the film carefully sets up a whole series of checks and balances, overall the girls are fairly graceless guests, sucking up the extraordinarily excessive hospitality as if it was their due.

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There is a scene where they are striding across a sand dune in slow motion, each done up in some garish outfit, and it struck me that this was the female equivalent of credit sequence in Reservoir Dogs. Men are spoilt for choice when it comes to screen fantasy role models while women have very few. In this vacuum the SATC 4 have grown into such abstract expressions of vacuous consumerism that they are probably too ridiculous to be offensive. You may argue that the movie is patronising towards Arab culture but then hardly more so than it is to the US or women.

The big delusion in SATC is that they are strong independent women, yet they are all pathetically in the thrall of any shiny bit of old tat. James Cameron had to spend $300million and reinvent cinema to get the kind of gasps of wonder from an audience this film gets from a shot of a walk-in wardrobe full of Carrie's old outfits.