The "girls" are back in town, though there's hardly any sex and a very different city in this hideously overblown sequel, which comes a full six years after the popular glitterati-gone-wild HBO soap ended its run. Age hasn't slowed these feisty ladies down, but it should've given them pause, as the lusty, Cosmo-fueled antics of the glory years have given way to a host of creaky domestic moans and wails of midlife angst, which seem to stretch on as endlessly as the desert horizon. With all the talk of hormone therapy, hot flashes and sagging body parts, S&C 2 feels a bit like a rehearsal for the Golden Girls touring company.
This is a women's empowerment fantasy as imagined by a gay man, with pals Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha serving as elaborate, swiftly aging Barbie dolls upon which to hang (questionably) fabulous clothes and neuroses. After the first film gave everyone something like a happy ending, there's little to do here except bitch and moan about having it all, leaving the quartet to fret about becoming as boring as Carrie's nasty dishwater tangle, and obsessing over their henpecked husbands' every nuance.
The movie's first section is devoted to an absurdly lavish wedding to show two gay supporting characters, an affair complete with swans, a men's chorus and enough white and silver to allow one to quip that the decor "looks like the snow queen exploded." This ghastly spectacle of ostentation is capped by Liza Minnelli warbling "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)" — even more dismaying since the old dear has seemingly forgotten to put on pants.
Of course, these merry nuptials fill the group's ringleader, Carrie (Parker), with dread about her own home life with dashing Wall Street ace "Mr. Big" (Chris Noth), who often prefers old movies and Nobu takeout on the couch over angling up to the trendiest bar.
The other gals also make mountains of molehills, like the busty nanny who's a whiz with the kids but can't seem to wear a bra. Fortunately, unmarried instigator Samantha (Cattrall) has an antidote to the blahs, when a mega-wealthy sheik offers to whisk them all away on an all-expenses-paid business trip to exotic Abu Dhabi.
Not surprisingly, the Middle East here is rendered with all the insight and sensitivity of a Hope and Crosby road picture, with tons of sun and sand, extravagant luxury and really bad camel-toe jokes. When the girls depart for a desert picnic, Miranda quips, "It's like Bedouin Bath and Beyond." Gag me with a silver spoon.
This Arabian jewel of a town is filled with such wonders as exotic spices and super-cheap shoes, and wise-yet-obedient brown people who are amused by these pampered Americans' antics.
Eventually, when Samantha's irrepressible libido nearly spawns an international incident, the gals have to race to the airport, because flying coach is a fate worse than death. If you don't choke on the sight of gals belting out "I Am Woman," in an Abu Dhabi karaoke bar, you will when some Muslim women proudly reveal the makeup and Louis Vitton wardrobes hidden under their veils. It's a fashion statement as a political statement, but just as empty and silly as everything else in this fantasia.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.