On the Aisle
By Tony Macklin
Films that are aimed at a particular target audience can cause a critic dyspepsia. The latest target movie — actually more Saks Fifth Avenue or Bergdorf Goodman — is “Sex and the City 2,” which is erratically slung toward middle-aged, materialistic women. Many of them seem to love the movie. In Cinemascore, which gives the audience’s reaction, “Sex and the City 2” gets a B+.
But in Rotten Tomatoes, which gives the reactions of reviewers (many of them female), “Sex and the City 2” gets 83 percent unfavorable, or in RT’s word “rotten.” Pity the poor man who was dragged into the theater to see it, but those in drag were OK with it.
I admit to having a female side, though I have no gaydar. I’m not a “real man.”
I wash my hands before leaving a public restroom. Real men don’t. And I use the turn signal in my car to let other drivers know what I’m going to do.
I don’t have a feminine side when driving though, because I don’t signal three blocks before I’m going to turn.
But I’m not a real man when driving. Real men, especially a lot of cowboy cops, don’t signal at all. I do.
Since I’m neither gay nor a real man, I approach “Sex and the City 2” with caution and trepidation. I really don’t want to offend all those women who are drawn to female bonding, fashion and fantasy.
You don’t want to insult them. It’s like people who love an ugly baby. The makers of “Sex and the City 2” have swaddled their offspring in silk and satin, but it’s still freakish. You give a sick smile.
I admire independent women. Every woman with whom I’ve had a relationship has left it more independent than they entered it. Except my mother, but that’s another story.
I affirmed Madonna and Cyndi Lauper. Carrie Bradshaw was a bit too neurotic and dependent on shoes for me.
Now the contemporary Amazon princess of independence is Chelsea Handler.
Chelsea would blow Carrie away. Unlike Samantha, Chelsea’s crudity is often witty. She has forceful humanity. And Chewie (Chuy).
Chelsea probably makes those middle-aged women who flock to “Sex and the City 2” very nervous. But it’s her time, and she has a stiletto-heeled legion of fans.
The big difference between Chelsea and Carrie is that Chelsea is still creative and impulsive. Carrie is set in amber; Chelsea is quicksilver.
Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her no-longer-budding buds (Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, and Cynthia Nixon), are now in their forties. One should take it easy on them, but if a critic is driven, he’s driven. For better or worse, I’m still driven.
Michael Patrick King, the writer and director of “Sex and the City 2,” was born in Scranton, Pa. He should have stayed there and worked for Dunder Mifflin. He has no sense of irony and no subtlety. He may have tried for a tongue-in-cheek quality, but his movie swallows its tongue. Samantha, time for a witless joke.
Sex can be better after 40, but conversation isn’t. King’s tacky dialogue is strained, contrived and tone deaf.
Let them have their female bonding. Let them have their fashion. But escapism as delusion is a nonstarter for me. I’m against the concept that escapism is the essence of movies, I think creativity and humanity are.
Th film’s escapism from the sands of time to the sands of Abu Dhabi is as successful as a botched facelift. The Ugly American has turned female.
Girls, let’s have another Cosmopolitan and remember the past fondly. But make way for Chelsea. She drinks vodka neat. She’s a real woman.
Tony Macklin, a former college English and film professor, is still foraging for truth in literature and film, in Arkansas, Las Vegas and beyond.