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Sex and the City 2

The second film about four New York City gal pals lacks sparkle, but will like satisfy the series' fans.

Kim Cattrall, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon,
and Kristin Davis in Sex and the City 2
(© Craig Blankenhorn/New Line Productions)
Perhaps the kindest explanation for what's on screen in Sex and the City 2, the second film sequel based on the 1988 groundbreaking cable TV sitcom, is that the whole concept of four gal pals galloping through life together -- as well as everyone involved on both sides of the camera -- is perhaps just a bit too tired. For a film that talks a lot of sparkle, there's simply not enough of it; but the series' fans will likely be happy enough to see their old friends one more time.

When last seen two years earlier (at the end of the end of the first film), Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) seemed to have everything. And that illusion is briefly maintained during a splendiferous opening wedding sequence for the series' two gay sidekicks, Stanford (Willie Garson) and Anthony (Mario Cantone) -- replete with a chorus of singing gay men, a performance by Liza Minnelli, and a slew of wedding guest cameos by such Broadway stars as Norm Lewis, Kelli O'Hara, and Michael T. Weiss (in fictional roles).

But it doesn't take long for the sequel to reveal the four women are all in crisis! Carrie is now afraid that the magic with Mr. Big (Chris Noth) is fading fast after only two years of wedded bliss (and two fabulous Upper West Side apartments); Charlotte and hubby Harry (Evan Handler) are the proud parents of two children -- but their adopted Asian daughter and a perpetually crying two-year-old both cause their mom severe crying jags, and Charlotte is a bit concerned that Harry's interest might turn to their young, bra-less Irish nanny (Alice Eve).

Meanwhile, the once-miserable Miranda is finally happy with hubby Steve Brady (David Eigenberg) and their son, but not with her misogynistic law firm where the senior partner treats her dismissively; and still sexy Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall) is having a tough time battling menopause, despite the use of dozens of herbs and hormones.

A call from Samantha's still buff long-time beau Smith (Jason Lewis), asking her to attend the New York premiere of his new war flick, briefly brightens things up (along with cameo appearances by Penelope Cruz, Tim Gunn and Miley Cyrus). And then, before you can say Abu Dhabi, the ladies are on board a first class Arab airliner for a fabulous all-expenses paid vacation in the magical Middle East, courtesy of a chic sheik who wants to take advantage of Samantha's PR expertise.

Once there, it's cue the camels, palm trees, and a variety of handsome and swarthy Arabian men (not to mention a bunch of scantily-clad Australian rugby players and one very hot Danish architect). The trip is clearly designed by writer and director Michael Patrick King to set up a seemingly endless stream of predictable jokes and peppery puns, many of which concern the inappropriate behavior by our favorite gal-pals as they continually break most if not all of Allah's rules for and about women. Moreover, the dozens of vacation outfits are Arabian Nights fantasies by costumer designer Patricia Field -- and are even more breathtaking (and outrageous) than the film's multiple locations.

The film's most serious complications result from a shopping trip to the local souk where Carrie runs into her old beau Aiden (John Corbett), and he invites her to dinner. In the midst of having what she terms "a mid-wife crisis," Carrie eventually accepts, which proves not to be the wisest move.

Of course, there are some other obstacles for the foursome to overcome -- but thanks to a group of burka-swathed but sympathetic Muslim women and the oldest female hitchhiking trick in Frank Capra's playbook, the ladies eventually return to their old lives, a few days older, a whole lot wiser, and ready for yet another sequel if the public demands it.