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"Sex and the City 2"

Mid-life angst, stereotypes, and overly simplistic culture jabs abound in this disappointing sequel.

That’s when we move to the angst of the BFFs’ lives. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is now two years into her dreamy marriage to Big (Chris Noth), and she’s begun to worry about how they’ll keep the romance alive as Big gets increasingly comfortable spending nights at home in front of the big screen instead of out on the town with her.  Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) has made partner at her law firm, but her chauvinistic boss still wants to literally keep her down by shoving his hand in front of her face whenever she speaks.  Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is overwhelmed by the demands of her two daughters, one of whom is in the throes of the terrible twos and cries ceaselessly.  Her too-good-to-be-true nanny—a buxom Irish blonde who favors a braless look—routinely takes them off her hands, but Charlotte worries the nanny will distract her hubby with equal ease. And the now 52-year-old cougar Samantha: she’s concerned wholly with staving off hot flashes and keeping her overly charged libido in just that state.

So what are the girls to do?  Why, take off on an all-expenses-paid junket to the Middle East, where an immensely wealthy sheik has lured Samantha in hopes that she’ll publicize his hotel to Western travelers. It’s in Abu Dhabi  (Morocco stands in) that "Sex and the City 2" veers wildly off-course.  The women, already rich and sophisticated by any measure, are ridiculously wowed by the gaudy trappings of this city in the desert.  They eat, they drink, they buy shoes.  They take camel rides, get spa treatments, do a karaoke number in a nightclub.  Along the way, they stir up trouble.  Unbelievably, Carrie runs into old flame Aidan (John Corbett) thousands of miles from home, and Samantha nearly ends up in jail for her public displays of affection with the very hunky businessman Rikard (Max Ryan), whose crotch is much too frequently captured by the camera.

It all begins to feel like too much information, especially when the contents of Samantha’s Birkin bag—jammed with condoms—spill out on a spice marketplace street, and the women are forced to flee a group of outraged Muslim men with the help of the local women, who lend them their burkas to wear as disguises.

The one good thing about this sequel is that King has gone as far as he possibly can with making these characters’ life experiences engaging and funny.  The only possible next stop for a "Sex and the City 3" is the retirement home, and that’s one place this Hollywood commodity will never go.

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