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Wednesday, October 21, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Highly styled ‘SATC2’ offers little substance

From left, Kristin Davis, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall and Cynthia Nixon return for “Sex and the City 2.” Warner Bros. (Warner Bros.)
From left, Kristin Davis, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall and Cynthia Nixon return for “Sex and the City 2.” Warner Bros. (Warner Bros.)
Christy Lemire Associated Press

“Sex and the City 2” is so over-the-top ridiculous, it plays like a parody of what a sequel to the 2008 hit movie would be.

You can just imagine how the brainstorming sessions might have gone:

“I know, let’s send the ladies to Abu Dhabi! We can dress them in outrageous costumes and put them on camels in the middle of the desert and Charlotte can search frantically for a cell-phone signal!

“Carrie can wear some oversized hat, and Samantha can shock all the Arab men with her signature brand of in-your-face sexuality! And Miranda … well, we’ll find something for her to do.”

“Perfect. But wait, we need to include Liza Minnelli somehow. Surely we can’t ship her out to the Middle East …”

“How about this: We stage a gay wedding, and not only will Liza officiate the ceremony, she’ll also sing Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)’ AND do the dance.”

“Genius!” (High five!)

Minnelli does indeed sing the song and do the dance, and it’s so painful to watch, it will make you want to scratch your eyes out of your head.

It’s a perfect example of so much that goes wrong with “Sex and the City 2”: It’s self-indulgent, way too long and never as clever or funny as it’s intended to be.

Writer-director Michael Patrick King and company found a balance of substance and style with the long-running, hugely popular HBO series. Even the original “Sex and the City” movie, for all its fashionable splashiness, still managed to be about something: the way the characters adapted as they morphed from single party girls into women building families. (Except for Samantha, of course.)

But the sequel too often feels like a series of lavish set pieces with sporadic discussions about careers, marriage and babies in between (although one of those talks, between Charlotte and Miranda about the realities of motherhood, is the purest moment in the movie).

Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Big (Chris Noth) have been married for two years now, and they’re trying to avoid falling into staid domesticity.

Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), married with a son, has a jerk of a new boss who’s making her miserable at the law firm.

Charlotte (Kristin Davis) has a comfortable life with husband Harry (Evan Handler) but she’s finding being a mother isn’t as idyllic as she’d dreamed.

And Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is trying to fight off menopause by swallowing handfuls of vitamins every day. She also gets a gig doing PR for a luxurious resort in Abu Dhabi, so naturally she invites her girlfriends along for the adventure.

This is basically an excuse to dress the foursome in exquisite jewel tones (the work of the famous costume designer Patricia Field, as always) and trot them through upscale hotel rooms, restaurants and bars.

Even though it’s supposed to be a fantasy, all this excess clangs – given the current economic climate – making these women seem out of reach and out of touch.

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