Entertainment

Sex and the City 2 is ‘blatantly anti-Muslim’

Pat McMahon Contributor
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Because the first “Sex and the City” movie turned out to be a boxoffice bonanza two years ago, there are a lot of women panting for the sequel, already planning their wardrobe for a girls’ night out.

So even if “Sex and the City 2” consisted of nothing but a two-and-a-half hour fashion show, it would draw crowds. But it also has the returning cast members in fine comic form, and it has more cutting-edge humor than the first movie. Critics will carp about the platitudes in the script and about the longueurs in the nearly 2 1/2-hour opus, but for the core audience, there will be no complaints about too much of a good thing. This picture is going to be a smash.

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These wan domestic squabbles are merely prelude to the movie’s major plot development. Samantha is approached by an Arab sheik to devise a PR campaign for his business enterprises, and he offers to fly her and her three gal pals on an all-expenses-paid luxury vacation to Abu Dhabi. (These scenes were filmed in Morocco.) Even in an escapist fantasy, the spectacle of women sinking into this billionaire’s paradise at a time of widespread economic hardship initially seems creepy and off-putting. Soon, however, their Arab sojourn takes unexpected turns. First of all, Carrie encounters her old flame, Aidan (John Corbett), at the spice market, but even more importantly, she and her friends run up against the puritanical and misogynistic culture of the Middle East. The rather scathing portrayal of Muslim society no doubt will stir controversy, especially in a frothy summer entertainment, but there’s something bracing about the film’s saucy political incorrectness. Or is it politically correct? “SATC 2” is at once proudly feminist and blatantly anti-Muslim, which means that it might confound liberal viewers.

Indicative of the film’s contradictory stance is a scene in which the ladies perform a karaoke version of Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” in an Abu Dhabi nightclub. An equally outrageous moment comes when the interlopers are rescued by a bunch of Muslim women who strip off their black robes to reveal the stylish Western outfits they are concealing beneath their discreet garb. These endearingly loopy scenes exhibit the tasteless humor that enlivened the TV series on its best nights.