Sex & the City 2 (2010)

Rated R. Our Ratings: V-1; L-2; S-7/N-4. Length: 2 hours 26 min.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on
earth, where moth and rust consume and
where thieves break in and steal; but store up
for yourselves treasures in heaven, where
neither moth nor rust consumes and where
thieves do not break in and steal. For where
your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your
eye is healthy, your whole body will be full
of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole
body will be full of darkness. If then the light
in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
Matthew 6:19-23

The four friends sing I Am Woman in a Muslim nightspot.

2010 Warner Brothers

Having seen the first film based on the popular cable series, I attended this sequel out of a sense of duty, rather than any great desire or expectation of seeing a memorable movie. Nor was I disabused, the best part of the experience being the fancy attire worn by at least half of the young females who made up the audience, and, in the movie itself, the aerial shots informing us that the story is set in New York City. This opening sequence provided the most spectacular shots of what is still perhaps the most beautiful building to grace the vertical skyline of Manhattan, the ever-gorgeous Chrysler Building with its Art Deco embellishments. It was downhill the rest of the time in this far too long film (except for a scene discussed later)—at least for this viewer, though I must report that the audience was very much into the film and its shallow characters.

The story takes up two years after the first film, with three of the four friends being married—Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis), both with children— Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Mr. Big (Chris Noth) preferring to remain childless; and the promiscuous Samantha (Kim Cattrall) staying decidedly single. The marrieds with children express dismay over unforeseen burdens of parenthood, and Carrie and Mr. Big discover that he prefers to stay home and watch old movies rather than go to the lavish affairs where Carrie can show off her fancy gowns revealing how svelte and sexy she is. When Samantha accepts an Arab Sheik’s invitation to fly at his expense to Abu Dhabi to discuss her mounting a pr campaign for him, she takes the three friends along, where they almost stir up still another jihad because of Samantha’s public flaunting of her loose sexual mores.

My impression of these two movies is that they are the equivalent for young women of the Barbie Doll to little girls. Both engender in those who consume them false or shallow values, especially of what the modern woman should look and be like. The gay wedding scene at the beginning of the film might have become a moment of affirmation for those rejected by so many in our society, but it is played for laughs instead, with, of all people, Liza Minnelli officiating at the ceremony, and then right after the exchange of vows, shedding much of her clothing to perform an inappropriate dance with two other cameo stars.

Another scene later in the film that stirred conflicting emotions takes place in an Abu Dhabi nightclub where our female quartet sings a karaoke version of Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman.” At first this seemed offensive to me because the superficial lifestyle of the movie characters seems so out of synch with that of Redding and the other strong leaders of the Women’s Movement and also of the setting—a nightspot catering to foreigners and Westernized natives in a Muslim land. But then as the women patrons began to join the chorus, the singing swelled. Women from India or Pakistan, parts of Africa, as well as the Middle East sing out, their participation seemingly pointing to a better future. Now if Michael Patrick King, the writer-director of the film, could have worked in more of such scenes, what a better film this might have been. However (I am writing this line after compiling the questions below), even such a mediocre film as this can lead to a first class discussion of important issue. So my advice is to wait until the film comes to a “cheap seats” theater or is released on cable and DVD, and then watch and discuss it.

For Reflection/Discussion

Contains spoilers, so beware.

1. What do you think is the image of womanhood projected by the film? The good points, such as self-assertion? The not so positive attributes? Which characters show evidence of growth by the end of the film? What about Miranda, especially as we see her at the end? Do you think this scene is played for laughs or for a more serious purpose? (Recall the audience reaction to the scene.)

2. What do you think of the emphasis upon clothes and shoes?

3. One positive feature is the depiction of the conflicting emotions of the two mothers over their children: how is this pretty realistic? If you are a parent, how was your romantic view of parenthood changed by the heavy responsibilities of actually caring for a child 14/7?

4. How is Miranda still working under pre-feminist conditions at her law firm? What do you think of the action she finally takes?

5. How does their friendship strengthen each of them in coping with their problems?

6. What do you think of the use of the anthem from the Women’s Movement? How does it show a growing solidarity with women still being oppressed around the world?

7. Moments of grace: a. What do you think of Carrie’s ignoring her friends’ advice and telling her husband that she had kissed her ex-boyfriend? What risk is she willing to take on behalf of truth and openness? How is this an honoring of her husband?

b. When Miranda receives an offer from the Englishman to spend the rest of the evening with him, what does she do? How is this a good example of friendship?

8.What do you think of the depiction of Muslims? Pretty Hollywood stereotypical? What about the scene of the supposedly “liberated” Muslim women? Just another stereotype? Do you think that Muslims should just embrace Western dress and values as the film suggests?

9. What aspects of our culture do you think should be open to question, and possible rejection? For instance, what about Miranda: do you think she is the model of womanhood we should hold up for the world? From a Christian perspective, what about the above quotation from Jesus? How might he agree with some of the Muslim criticisms of the West?

10. If discussing the film as a group, the following might be a fun exercise: Rewrite either the above passage from Matthew 6, or the Beattitudes according to the very different worldview of the makers of this film.