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Nearly two years have passed since Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Big (Chris Noth) tied the knot and became 'Just Us Two'. Charlotte (Kristin Davis), is busy at home with two young children, Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is juggling identities as she flits from being a mother to a lawyer and sex-kitten Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is boosting up her oestrogen as she leads the way through the menopause maze. Just as the four girls are wondering whether their lives are living up to the dream, they are all invited to fly from New York to Abu Dhabi, for an all-expenses paid, no expense-spared week of luxury and exotic adventure. It is perfect timing to escape from traditional roles and re-evaluate - with soulmates.

Review by Louise Keller:
It's always been a girlie thing - fashion and friendship in the context of sex and the single girl in the Big Apple - so it is not surprising that most men don't get it. Strictly for the fans, this breathlessly awaited sequel discards its New York City setting as it opts for a fish-out-of-water fantasy escape in the Middle East. Big mistake. It's a bit like a magic carpet ride for Barbie dolls in which designer fashion and life's frustrations play on a bed of friendship.

Instead of keeping his strong, sassy, fashion-addicted women grounded, writer director Michael Patrick King throws caution to the Abu Dhabi desert wind and delivers an over-the-top fanciful, theatrical adventure whose relationships and key themes are cluttered by excess. It's not nearly as good as the original film, although the female target audience will flock to see it nonetheless. For those who love the characters from the TV series (based on Candace Bushnell's book), it is an opportunity to spend time in their company, ogle the designer fashion and listen to the girlie banter, although even the fans will agree the 146 minute running time is far too long.

After a snappy introduction comes the overlong, elaborate gay wedding sequence in Connecticut in which Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) plays Best Man. 'Don't make me look too good,' Big (Chris Noth) warns, as gay jokes begin and the conventional and unconventional collide. (She calls the 'bride' Lady Dior; he calls her 'Bitch'.) There's a bridge, a moat and swans, while a male chorus croons Camelot's 'If Ever I Would Leave You'. Groan. It's not Elton John but a black-sequined Liza (with a Zee), in black sequins as the celebrant-cum-floor show, flanked by two Liza lookalikes.

The storyline has slightly more appeal as it explores dreams, expectations and reality. Does marriage live up to Carrie and Big's dreams as they try to keep a little piece of heaven in their new 'down to earth' ground floor apartment? How can they keep the 'sparkle' in their relationship when she wants to eat out and he wants to stay home? ('You knew when you married me, I was more Coco Chanel than coq au vin.')

As Big and Carrie struggle to make their own rules, the other girls have their own issues. We all feel for Charlotte (Kristin Davis), whose amply-endowed 'bra-less' Nanny (Alice Eve) is a man magnet, while Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is feeling compromised at work, torn between the pull of career and motherhood. As for sexpot Samantha (Kim Cattrall), I can still see that scene in her Times Square office, pink panties at her ankles, as she takes the call from former flame Smith (Jason Lewis) in Abu Dhabi.

The girls are all terrific and it looks as though they are having fun as every scene offers a new opportunity to don chiffon, taffeta, sequins and silk (usually in inappropriate situations). Apart from Noth and John Corbitt (as Carrie's ex), most of the men are sex-machines with toothpaste smiles and six-packs.

The exotic adventure in Abu Dhabi is pure theatre: just like 'Aladdin's cave with cocktails'. We need to go somewhere rich, Samantha purrs, but hot flushes set in when her oestrogen pills are confiscated at the airport. There's a private jet, limousines, butlers, a decadent boudoir and a private bar, where Miranda and Charlotte face their motherhood demons over cocktails. There's a camel ride, shoe-shopping in a jostling souk, a stolen kiss, an arrest and an interesting twist on the burqa jokes. Another scene, another frock, another pair of stilettos...

In his attempt to portray the colours and conventions of love, it feels as though Michael Patrick King has thrown the whole kitchen sink into his story that ends up with little sex or city, falling short of its promise.
First published in the Sun-Herald

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(US, 2010)

CAST: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Chris Noth, David Eigenberg

PRODUCER: Michael Patrick King, John P. Melfi, Sarah Jessica Parker, Darren Star

DIRECTOR: Michael Patrick King

SCRIPT: Michael Patrick King (based on book by Candace Bushnell)


EDITOR: Michael Berenbaum


RUNNING TIME: 146 minutes



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