Movies

DAVID GREENE, host:

The new "Sex and the City" film opens this week and it's a franchise like no other. No action, no animated toys, no supernatural teenagers. Critic Mia Mask says the new installment focuses its hallmarks - fabulous clothes, female friendships, and a little fantasy.

Ms. MIA MASK (Film Critic): With two years of marriage under her belt, Carrie Bradshaw-Preston is concerned that she and Big are becoming a boring old married couple.

(Soundbite of movie, "Sex and the City 2")

Ms. SARAH JESSICA PARKER (as Carrie Bradshaw-Preston): Well, I've got to check with the old ball and chain, but I'm good to go - Middle East me.

Ms. MASK: Sexy Samantha is leading the way through the menopause maze with a cocktail of potions and pills.

(Soundbite of movie, "Sex and the City 2")

Ms. KIM CATTRALL (as Samantha Jones): My bio-identical estrogen cream, progesterone cream, a touch of testosterone.

Ms. MASK: The overachieving Miranda's still a workaholic, but now she's got a boorish bully for a boss.

(Soundbite of movie, "Sex and the City 2")

Ms. CYNTHIA NIXON (as Miranda Hobbes): I used to love going to work, and now I'm sick at the thought of it.

Ms. MASK: And Charlotte's got everything she ever wanted, only motherhood is making her come unhinged.

Just when the women are starting to lament the stress of having it all, along comes Sheik Khalid, who invites Samantha to do public relations for his majestic hotels.

(Soundbite of movie, "Sex and the City 2")

Ms. CATTRALL (as Samantha): One week in Abu Dhabi, all expenses paid.

Ms. PARKER (as Carrie): I've always been fascinated by the Middle East. You know, desert moons, Shaharazad, magic carpets.

Ms. MASK: Their royal holiday takes the four liberated women to the new Middle East. The trip sets in motion a comedy of manners, cross-cultural faux pas, and Islamic caricatures.

It's too bad "Sex and the City 2" barely escapes stereotyping Abu Dhabi as exotic, mysterious and sexually repressive. One more step and it could have become an Abbott and Costello flying-carpet comedy. It's Western haute-couture meets the Eastern religious burqinis, but with a few surprises.

(Soundbite of movie, "Sex and the City 2")

Ms. PARKER (As Carrie): And there in the middle of old Abu Dhabi was an old love - Aidan.

Ms. MASK: "Sex and the City 2" is a romp through classical Hollywood genres. There are beautiful vistas straight out of�"Lawrence of Arabia." And its carnivalesque sensibility comes from romantic comedies of remarriage like�"It Happened One Night," or irreverently adoring couples like�Nick and Nora Charles from "The Thin Man" series. The dialogue, full of double-entendre, the lavish product design and high glamour would make old Hollywood proud.

GREENE: Mia Mask teaches film at Vassar College. She is the author of "Divas Onscreen."

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