Spoilers, should such a thing be possible with this kind of movie, follow

Bearing in mind that I know nothing about the characters that I didn’t learn from the horrid first movie (review here), let me catch you up to date:

The protagonist, Carrie, is the New York City-based book and magazine writer. She is in love with fashion, shoes, and herself, and not necessarily in that order. Although she occasionally provides a genuinely interesting thought, even a broken clock is right twice a day, and she’s mostly an unintentional idiot in the ways of love, relationships, and anything else you’d care to name. She has no fashion sense whatsoever, though everyone pretends otherwise.

Carrie’s boyfriend Mr. Big (aka Big) is a Wall Street financier (aka jackass) who is rich beyond words. He socially awkward, though neither he nor Carrie see this, and, other than Carrie—who he’s awed with his bank account—he has no friends.

Samantha is Carrie’s 50ish sex-crazed pal. She’s extremely profane and utterly rude, but has a moderately accurate self concept, which is to say that she loves herself more than anyone else and knows it. Ayn Rand would be thrilled.

Miranda is very unpleasant. Details in the the first movie. She is amazingly self-centered, as they all are, but with attitude. With her emasculated husband Steve she forms a union I can’t understand: Neither should be remotely attractive to the other. Although she’s never shown any evidence of logical or legal aptitude, she claims to be a lawyer.

Charlotte is cute but dumb as nails. She and her husband, the bald guy who cameoed as a political consultant for a few episodes of The West Wing, have one adopted kid and one biological. Charlotte had very little do in the first movie: Literally, the highlight was that she shit her pants. Who knows to what heights she might ascend in this second go-round?

Diamonds everywhere in the opening. A perverse anti-salute to the recession? There’s Carrie, with sunglasses that look stupid, ruining the effect of a wonderful white dress. Can anyone really be this clueless when it comes to fashion?

Via voiceover Carrie brings us up to speed on how she and her friends came to New York City. For her, it was 1986. They give her a strange Barbra Streisand look in the flashback. Charlotte next in a nice pink dress and way too much mascara. They’ve killed her cute pixie look, which is really unfortunate for those of us who liked it. Miranda teeters toward them through a crowd—is she drunk already?—and oh my God did they make her look bizarre in the flashback. An ounce of pity mixes with the bile I normally feel when I see her. She is totally incapable of walking in those heels, and it is clear from the first present-day glance that she thinks she’s a lot hotter than she really is. They layer up Samantha in the flashback because you’ll never buy a 50 year-old as a 30 year-old otherwise. Or at least not this one.

In go the foursome to some ritzy store for a wedding gift. Awkward, dippy happy-talk dialogue follows. Notable: The girls are serious pancaked in makeup. Also notable: The actress who plays Miranda appears to be the best of the bunch, something that was true last time around as well. Can’t stand the character, but the actress deserves some props.

Everybody goes to a gay wedding in Connecticut, where I’m sure the filmmakers will display their usual sensitivity when it comes to stereotypes: None at all. We catch our first look at Big who is rocking the tuxedo as most men do. Then we see Carrie who is failing to rock a tuxedo as most women do. She blames this fashion choice on being the “best man” at the gay wedding, but I can’t help but think even the gays would’ve preferred that she just look good in a nice dress.

Carrie objects half-heartedly to Big calling the event a “gay wedding” though that seems a pretty apt description. Big expresses minor concern that the affair will go on too long. He wants to know what he’s in for. Carrie objects again to a “gay wedding” reference from Big. They have reconciliation sex.

Worse. Foreplay. Ever.

As Carrie and Big enter the largest, gayest wedding scene imaginable, she is forced to admit, as they pass a gay men’s choir in sequin top hats, that yes, this is a “gay wedding.” With the gaydar needle is hovering somewhere between flaming and incendiary, the extended cast assembles for more awkward dialogue. The writing so far has been utterly dreadful. Not worse but similarly awful: Charlotte, Samantha, and Carrie are again smothered in makeup. Miranda excepted here, the girls are not looking good.

Anthony, the gay groom or bride—I have no idea how you refer to either—shows up to complain about every aspect of his wedding. He tells them that his partner-to-be Stanford (with his lisp I thought it was “Stamford”) gets the wedding of his dreams and in return Anthony gets to cheat. Anthony is a noxious little fellow. Why would anyone want to be friends with him, let alone come to his wedding?

The group debates the wisdom of Anthony’s “I just gotta be me” arrangement with Stanford, but it proves beyond their ken. Charlotte argues that just because Anthony is allowed to cheat, it doesn’t mean he will. Miranda strongly implies Charlotte is an idiot. Carrie says it’s nobody’s business but Anthony and Stanford’s. She’s immediately contradicted by Steve who notes, in his annoyingly cloy way, that Anthony kind of made it their business. Beaten there, Carrie changes her argument and says that every couple has a right to make their own rules, a sensible yet completely incorrect notion given that over half the states in the union don’t allow the type of wedding they’re attending. Charlotte attempts, and fails, to disagree on philosophical grounds, arguing equally nonsensically that there is only one type of marriage. Again, girls, you’re at a gay wedding, albeit one that is setting back by about 40 years the notion of gay as normal.

Charlotte’s husband mentions drinks and people can’t start getting sloshed fast enough so that they can forget this unpleasantness. That includes us in the audience.

Carrie, wearing too-high heels and racoon-level mascara, goes to visit Stanford. You can’t even see her eyes in there. “This is a hold-up,” she seems to want to say. Stanford compares his wedding to the summer he was hooked on cocaine. Once he tries living with Anthony, I’m betting old habits will return. Carrie questions Stanford about Anthony being allowed to cheat—not five minutes ago she was arguing it was nobody else’s business—and is obviously disgusted when he laughs it off.

Annoyed now with Stanford, Carrie is further incensed by her corsage box being labeled “Carrie Preston”—Big’s last name. She thought it would be her: “Bradshaw.” Stanford says the wedding planner insisted, so whatchya gonna do? It’s not like it’s Stanford’s wedding or anything. It’s not like he’s spent his life fortune on this over-the-top hideousness. Oh wait.

Carrie consoles herself with a black widow tiara. I guess she’ll be wearing that in the ceremony. One really does not know what to say. Just when you thought she couldn’t look any stupider, she finds a way. That thing would look right at home in a Batman movie.

The gay men’s chorus is singing “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof when Liza Minnelli appears, her long pink scarf trumpeting her long-standing support of gays and gay culture. Oh, and she’ll be ministering. Excellent. That Reverend-by-mail paperwork went through, then.

Ah, they’ve written their own vows. I can’t wait to hear Anthony’s: “I promise to be me. Stamford, you will be my first afterthought for the rest of my days.”

Stanford makes a “joke” and oh-my-god’s Liza Minnelli. The crowd reaction shot is great. Everyone is pretend smiling except Charlotte’s little girl in the front row, who seems to have grasped just how dumbly unfunny this is. Either that, or the actress just can’t fake a laugh.

In the audience, Big is sitting between Miranda and her husband Steve. This would never happen at a real wedding, even though Steve is a massive tool. “Hey, Big, Carrie’s up there. Why don’t you sit between me and my wife?” To hell with reality, let’s just make sure our stars are grouped in frame. Horrible movie-making.

Anthony tears up during his vows: “You’re the first man to accept me as I am.” Yeah, a jackass. Stanford’s standards suck. Welcome to martial bliss.

Cut back to another audience reaction shot and it’s clear that Charlotte’s little girl has one gigantic welt on her forehead. I’m assuming there’s a deleted scene where she’s molested by swans. You’d think I was joking, but I’m not. Anyhow, she’s got a shiner.

Now it’s the Liza Minnelli Experience™ with Liza doing a song and dance number with two Liza impersonators while the crowd, strategically located on the other side of a moat, oohs and ahhs. She’s got to be what, pushing 70? That sheer, Cher-like black hose outfit is a huge mistake. Probably Carrie’s recommendation. Liza dances like she’s going to fall over at any instant.

Chatter at the wedding table sets up our next conflicts: Charlotte and hubby are having difficulty with their biological daughter Rose; Miranda and Steve both hate her new boss. Big is hit on by a ho-mo-sex-ual and, questionably in my opinion, feels more masculine as a result.

A fan bothers Carrie at the table and starts making stalkerish claims of hero worship. Fan’s husband mentions that they’re “expecting” (quotes for a reason) having used a surrogate service to spare his wife’s uterus any discomfort. He pleasantly offers to give Big and Carrie the contact info for the service, creepily inserting himself into Big and Carrie’s sex life and relationship. This type of behavior seems to be a common theme in the movies. Carrie declines interest in surrogacy and tries without success to convince the deeply nosey couple that “kids are just not for us.” The couple is unable to comprehend a life without kids, so Big changes the topic to Carrie’s new book coming out next month while the fan contemplates how it feels when your hero falls from the heavens. From gushing to icy in under three minutes, is how. Carrie is not have a good gay wedding.

Time for the first dance. Couples head off to the floor, while Samantha regales the gays at the bar with her lack of plastic surgery. She hits on Anthony’s hot, straight brother. That leads to where you think it does, with wild sex screaming from an upstairs bedroom while guests nervously exit the reception. Big and Carrie are sandwiched between that and Charlotte’s baby screaming in a room on the other side. Good times. They opt to watch It Happened One Night on TV. Carrie’s commentary, “She’s pretty,” is telling. It’s all about appearances.

The next morning the foursome meet for breakfast. Samantha is popping pills like she owns a pharmacy. “I’ve tricked my body into thinking it’s younger,” says Samantha. Yeah, well, you ain’t tricked the rest of us. Charlotte shows up with her two whiny kids, and says a few typically stupid things.

Moments later her nanny, an Irish lass named Erin, runs up to the table in a slow-motion sequence right out of Bay Watch. Look at those breasts bounce. Seriously, you can’t help it. They’re doing a close-up as she runs. I’m a fan, but this is bizarre. I did not expect to have a new favorite character, let alone two. Samantha (“is she bisexual?”) is smitten as well.

“There ought to be a law against hiring a nanny that looks like that,” says Samantha, undoubtedly stirring up feelings of parental and sexual inadequacy in Charlotte. “Yeah, the Jude Law,” quips Carrie. Guffaws all around, but I don’t get it. What’s funny about that? How is that even a joke?

Cut to scene of Charlotte’s husband, Steve, and Big staring at Erin’s bosom, as Charlotte fragile psychological state of mind crumbles. Nice going, Samantha.

I will never be actor in a major motion picture, but if I were to be one, this is the scene I would want. “All men stare at Erin’s breasts as she jumps out and down and does cartwheels.” I could retire after that, secure in the knowledge that I’d reached the pinnacle of my career. Also now a fantasy: Casting director. Imagine how fun that audition would be.

After the Wedding and Reception
Big and Carrie return home. Marital harmony proves difficult. Big wants to stay in after a long weekend away while Carrie wants to go out. “We ordered in twice last week,” whines Carrie, clearly uncomfortable with the idea of just staying home. On one hand, who can blame her? Big is about as boring as a pet rock, a hermit with no friends. On the other hand, she’s complaining about only going out five times a week? And she just got back from a weekend getaway in the New England? Oh what a rich inner life Carrie must have. Big reads the newspaper while Carrie nags. Scintillating filmmaking.

Meanwhile, Miranda continues her absentee wife and mother ways. She hates her boss and therefore her job, but is unwilling to take Steve’s perfectly sensible advice to quit or change jobs. “Life’s too short,” says Steve with a casualness that makes me wonder what he does for a living. Bet it doesn’t include balancing the checkbook. He may not be wrong, but he sounds blind to the financial consequences. Even her young son’s efforts to shame Miranda fail.

At Miranda’s work meeting, Miranda interrupts somebody else’s presentation and is given the “talk to the hand” gesture by her boss. Damn straight. Don’t interrupt. How did you not learn that in Kindergarten? The boss, a senior partner, reassigns Miranda’s case to another subordinate prompting Miranda to try the “talk to the hand” gesture back at him. He is offended and asks for a private discussion which she declines. Miranda’s sense of hierarchy might need some work. One can imagine this being a problem in a courtroom setting as well. “Your Honor, talk to the hand!”

In something of a panic, Miranda storms into her son’s science fair. If she’s not fired or suspended, I’ll be stunned. I’m pretty sure you don’t get to speak to your boss that way. Oh, false alarm! “I quit,” she tells Steve, who is thrilled at the news. Clearly, the financial implications have not sunk in to anyone but the housekeeper, who will be out on her now-unaffordable keister shortly. Miranda’s son receives first place in the 2nd grade science fair, causing a high pitched shriek from Miranda. Honestly, let’s try to win with some grace here.

Charlotte, decked out in a slightly off the shoulder number designed to make men’s heads swivel, marches in on bath time for the kids. Husband and nanny Erin are bathing the kids when one of the munchkins grabs the shower head, turns it on Erin, and morphs the scene into a wet t-shirt contest with only one contestant. Erin, you win. As we all do.

Carrie receives a copy of her new book, I Do! Do I? That seems a perfectly apt title. Possible subtitles should’ve included “A woman’s guide to self-doubt” or “Single or married, oh, I don’t know!” or “Do-be-do-be-do.”

Charlotte calls Carrie for confirmation that her clearly warranted concerns about Erin and her husband are unfounded. Of course she’s chosen to call Carrie while holding one crying daughter, cooking cupcakes, and supervising the another daughter’s painting project. Eldest daughter puts two big red handprints on Charlotte’s butt, prompting the first real display of anger and sadness we’ve seen from Charlotte: Her vintage designer garment is ruined. Charlotte leaves her kids yelling the kitchen—a nice, safe place in other words—and shuts herself off in the pantry to have a good cry about her cream Valentino skirt. Erin, spectacular breasts in full display, opens the door on a surprised Charlotte and hustles the kids out the door so Charlotte can regain her composure and find a good dry cleaner.

Samantha is douching herself with some kind of youth cream in full view of her employees. This is wrong on so many levels. Her movie star ex-boyfriend from the first film calls from Abu Dhabi. He wants her as a date for the New York premiere of his film. This is surprisingly generous behavior given that she dumped him at the end of the first movie so that she could spend more time screwing other guys.

Carrie and Big eat in. Big cooks(!) an anniversary dinner, tries to brag about it, and Carrie concedes it’s edible. Lot left on the plate, though. Carrie has given Big a gift: A vintage 1968 Rolex watch. Presumably the modern Rolex he currently wears is inferior in some way. Or maybe he collects watches? Carrie’s had the vintage watch engraved, so bad luck, Big. No return possible. Big sensibly refuses to put on a 40 year-old timepiece, and distracts Carrie with “Your gift is in the bedroom.” Rrrrowr! Down, Tiger.

Oh no! It’s a state-of-the-art flatscreen TV! Carrie’s face falls to her Jimmy Choo shoes! Big has completely misread his wife’s interest in old black-and-white movies. I hope he didn’t have it engraved. How will Carrie hide her disappointment? Will she even try? No, no she will not. Her ability to feign pleasure for others is nonexistent, at least when it comes to receiving crappy gifts in the bedroom. Big begins to understand that he’s made a mistake and asks, in rather salty language, if he’s done so. If you have to ask, the answer is “yup.” Anniversary ruined, big guy. Nice work.

Carrie goes shopping with Samantha and gets her and Big invited to the movie premiere. The saleswoman shows remarkably bad tact in asking Samantha to please not dress like a young tart. Samantha refuses of course, and the saleswoman rightly backs down. Surely there’s a commission at stake. Samantha tells Carrie that Vogue wants her to write a piece to accompany the release of her book. Carrie worries that critical reaction may not be favorable. I’m with you on that one, sister.

Big comes home from losing lots of money at work and finds Carrie all spiffed up for the movie premiere. Big wants to stay at home (and drink, most likely). But Carrie wants to go out with him. Come on Big! You get to eat in two whole nights a week! Look at the sacrifices Carrie is making for you. Big refuses to go, even though Carrie has dressed up special. “Special” here meaning a dress she actually looks good in, a strapless number that highlights her breasts. Big has to be really hurting to turn down that kind of inducement. How often does Carrie look that good? Not often, I can tell you.

But Carrie refuses Big’s refusal! She hands him a drink, and tells him to swig it and get a move on. “Do you really want to be pushed and shoved in a crowd and eat bad catered food?” complains Big. Oh God, yes, answers Carrie. Anything that will distract me from the emptiness of my soul. A bright shiny movie premiere should do the trick for tonight. Big, you probably wanted to ask these questions before you got married.

At the movie premiere Samantha is humiliated by wearing the same dress as a younger Hannah Montana who, it is universally acknowledged, looks a thousands times better in it. Awkward times two says Mr. Blackwell, as someone in the crowd shouts, “Is that your mother?” Miley scampers over to Samantha for joint pictures. “Great dress,” she says, knowing full well that she’s going to win in any comparison.

At the VIP after party–no telling just how much the movie stank, but I’m guessing pretty heavily—Samantha and her ex- are interviewed by a middle eastern money man stereotypically named Sheik Khalid. Samantha is given all the credit for her ex-boyfriend’s career, which well may be true. She sure thinks it is, giving everyone smuggest “I am terrific” look you’ve ever seen. She could not look any less humble if she tried. The Sheik is from Abu Dhabi and invites Samantha to come on over to their swinging little country and have a good time at his fabulous hotel. Maybe they’ll even do a little “business” as wealthy Middle Eastern Muslim men frequently do with older, scantily clad New York women. Does this seem a touch unlikely to anyone but me? Well, unless we accept “do a little business” as a euphemism. The Sheik describes Abu Dhabi as the future: progressive, stylish, etc. (Were filmmakers allowed to shoot this movie there? No. They had to shoot in Morocco.)

Carrie complains to Stanford that Big loves their couch more than her. Then they spy Big laughing with an attractive lady at the bar. Carrie ambles over to put a stop to that. God forbid Big should have a good time. She finds that the beautiful woman is the senior vice president of the Bank of Madrid. Not to worry, Carrie. I’m sure they’re just chortling about how her bank is tanking the European Union. But Big is smitten: Beauty and finance all in one woman. Wow. Carrie insists she and Big leave the party.

Back at home, Big is watching TV in bed while Carrie undresses. Carrie guessed right: The TV was an anniversary gift for him, not her. Of course Big is a socially maladroit introvert. I don’t know what else Carrie expected. Carry nags Big about his watching TV and his social ineptitude. Weirdest bit: That she does so first in lingerie then covers up a bit by holding her dress back in place. Honey, you’re married. He’s seen it all before. You don’t need to be modest here. In fact, if you want Big’s attention, cover up less. You can move Big’s eyes from boob tube to boobs in a heartbeat. Trust me, you’ll have his full attention.

Carrie rails against the TV Big so thoughtlessly put in their bedroom. “You’re not happy in, you’re not happy out,” complains Big. Kids, kids. You’re both right. You’re just arguing two different things. Big, you’re an idiot for putting a TV in the bedroom. Carrie, you’re just an idiot. That you have no idea what makes you happy is not Big’s fault, no matter how dense he is.

Carrie decides to move to her old apartment for a few days to write the Vogue article away from Big. I get that it’s a bad real estate market, but how do they not have that rented? Big is surprised that Carrie wants the hell away from him. Just until the article is done—two days, says Carrie. No distractions over here, says Carrie. I wonder if Big is so thickheaded as to miss the subtext. Actually, I don’t wonder at all.

Carrie assembles the girls for a bitch-and-moan session. Samantha has talked that sheik into letting her bring her three girlfriends with her, all expenses paid, to Abu Dhabi. This is a repeat lesson from the first movie: It’s who you know. The world is not a meritocracy. Carrie is sure she can talk Big into letting her go. (“Big, I’m going.”) Miranda can barely contain her glee at leaving Steve and son high and dry again. But Charlotte, poor Charlotte, is feeling the bonds of motherhood which, when coupled with her ever-brewing feelings of jealousy toward her nanny, make her incredibly reluctant to head out on the trip of a lifetime. Charlotte is easily persuaded by Samantha, again proving that there is no firmly held argument or belief on which Charlotte won’t cave.

Carrie finishes her article. Big swings by to pick her up with his car and driver. Big’s gone two days without sex and is horny as a hound dog. The groping starts in the backseat before anyone even has a seatbelt on.

Three weeks later, Carrie is packing for the trip when Big drops a bombshell. Remember how great the sex was when we were apart for a couple days? Let’s do that every week! Big thinks he should get his own apartment so that for at least two days a week he can get away from Carrie’s incessant nagging. Carrie is offended by Big’s idea, but relents to letting him use her old apartment instead. I love how Big has basically written Carrie out of 25% of his life with just a few casual words. “I don’t want to do things without you!” exclaims Carrie. That sounds good, but it’s patently untrue. Big calls her on it, and Carrie’s response, “Marriage doesn’t work like that,” contradicts her arguments at the gay wedding. Big throws that back in her face too. “I thought we were supposed to be making up our own rules,” says Big. Careful Big. You’re halfway to Anthony-ville.

“Is this because I’m a bitch wife who nags you?” asks Carrie. Oh hell yes. But don’t forget you’ve also married a guy who has almost Asperger-like social graces. “I feel like I’m disappointing you all the time,” replies Big with spot-on self-analysis. You married a party girl, Big. You’re not a party guy. How could you not disappoint her? “What would I tell the girls,” frets Carrie, like that’s the problem. In the end, they agree to let Big use Carrie’s apartment two days week. “Deal,” says Big, clearly flooded with joy.

Abu Dhabi Doo-Doo
The girls board the Sheik’s ritzy airplane to Abu Dhabi. Carrie’s grotesque hat is so large, it won’t even fit through the doorway. Seriously, this is what you pack for a trip? Miranda brings a bunch of crappy magazines along, the provocative headline of one reading, “Cheating with the Nanny!” Charlotte grabs it for a little read-and-cry me time. Miranda warns Samantha not to hug in public, as it will offend their guest nation’s conservative sensibilities. Good luck. With Samantha, it’s not the hugging in public I’d be worried about.

The girls get together at the plane’s bar. Carrie finally and unconvincingly spills the beans on the “two days a week off” plan with Big. Miranda reminisces wistfully about when she and Steve still lived apart. Samantha doesn’t really care. Charlotte goes passive-aggressive: “I just think marriage is two people sleeping night after night in the same bed.” Carrie tries explaining again, which is met by a eye-rolling and incredulity from Charlotte. Charlotte goes finally goes direct: “Doesn’t it hurt your feelings that he would want time off?” Obviously the answer is yes, but only because Carrie didn’t come up with this two-day apart plan first.

“Somewhere over Africa” Carrie begins to wonder about relationships, just like a high school girl might. “Can we really expect anyone on the outside to understand what goes on between two other people?” Sure, why not? Isn’t that what a couples counselor or therapist does? Of course, it might help if those two people were a little more self-actualized than you and Big, but still, I don’t see any particular barrier.

Samantha tries to smuggle her stash of youth drugs into Abu Dhabi. Jail time imminent. In an unheard of departure from reality, Samantha goes scot free. Darn.

And now, Spoiled Rich Girls Visit Abu Dhabi. It’s so much fun to watch the undeservedly rich have an undeservedly good time. Some of the nauseating amenities: Each girl gets their own Mercedes and driver; each gets their own male servant; they share a hotel suite with private bar and day/night kitchen. Who would possibly enjoy watching this?

Carrie suffers jet lag and gets up at 3 AM to have some warm milk. She’s surprised to discover her manservant who she failed to dismiss for the evening. He’s just been cooling his heels while she read in bed. How unlike Carrie to forget to think of other people. While he fixes her warm milk, she questions him about missing his wife who lives in India and who he gets to see every three months. Golly, there’s a happy thought for the poor fellow. Not only do you keep him after hours but then you pepper him about missing his wife. I’d say Carrie was heartless except that most Indian marriages are arranged, economic affairs. Love is a secondary consideration at best. Carrie’s trying to apply a different culture’s norms and mores to her own twisted little world. Count on her to derive big life lessons from this completely flawed comparison.

Carrie takes this new-found “wisdom” to the girls at breakfast. Samantha’s look of self-satisfied agreement has gotten really old. She’s been doing this “I am really great” schtick the whole movie—oh my god we’re only half way—and it’s amazingly off-putting. Carrie’s aims her line “see, there are all types of marriages” right at Charlotte which is pretty rude for breakfast. Charlotte reacts with quiet grace, though it’s probably jet lag. Or maybe she’s all cried out right now.

In any case, Miranda and Carrie decide to go shopping. On the way out, Carrie’s manservant tells her that she must not have “the forbidden experience.” Uh, buddy. I’m pretty sure she’s already had it. A lot. Oh, he means buying black market goods. Whew. Carrie picks up some hideous shoes for only $20.

In the middle of the completely uncrowded marketplace, she sees some ex-flame named Aiden. They start doing some utterly ridiculous slow motion walk toward each other like they’re in a music video. I hope this ends with one of them slapping the other. I have no idea about their collective history; I just think it would be funny after a slo-mo walk.

Well, not surprisingly he talks with a surfer dude accent. Right at her intellectual level then. Uh oh. Kids! No hugging in public! Aiden keeps hugging her. Somebody needs to get beheaded, namely us. Aiden is an international carpet dealer. He invites Carrie to dinner, but Carrie says she can’t commit. He gives her his cell number and tell her to call. Seems like an affable guy right around Carrie’s IQ. Wonder why she didn’t marry him. Probably some incredibly insignificant reason.

Carrie talks things over with the girls out by the pool. Turns out that Aiden hated Big, so I rather like Aiden already. Women in noticeably skimpy bikinis move through the frame—in Abu Dhabi? Really? Miranda complains that Samantha isn’t covering her legs. Did you just see the women walking by? Samantha’s practically in a burka comparatively.

The Australian men’s rugby team, also staying at the hotel, comes to the pool so that we can zoom in for various crotch shots. Samantha is concerned that she’s not feeling horny after seeing all the hard bodies. Charlotte politely tells Samantha to shut up. Miranda schedules everyone to go camel riding. Her manservant, considered gay because he likes Paula Abdul, picks out clothes for them to wear. Nice. Is there custom in Abu Dhabi that says women’s breasts should not be overtly displayed? If there is, Charlotte and Carrie are violating it in spirit if not letter. Charlotte falls off a camel in a strained comedy scene where’s she’s trying to reach husband Harry via cell. The dialogue and jokes are too stupid to repeat here, but notable is the inability of any of the actresses to laugh convincingly at any of them. Dreadful doesn’t begin to describe it.

While lunching under a tent in the desert, the girls are interrupted by a Danish architect with an Australian accent who is 4x4ing his way across the desert, probably causing all kinds of ecological damage. Samantha is smitten. Moronic jokes ensue to a Foreigner soundtrack. Cut to bad karaoke at the hotel. The moviemakers are having no compassion for the audience. This awful. Samantha is wearing shoulder armor with dangerous metallic spikes. Better cut off her drinks early. She’ll lurch into a waiter and kill the man. Without evidence, the girls tell Miranda she’s fun in Abu Dhabiâ—as opposed to New York where, with plenty of evidence, they say she’s been hell for the last two years. Miranda cuts them off to point out rap stars now taking the stage. Are they Americans? Will we hear real rap music? I don’t think you get to say “ho” or “bitch” in Abu Dhabi, even if it’s not in Arabic. Now expecting a four minute rap song with no words.

Ah, but they’re not American, and it’s a feint: Miranda has arranged for the rap “stars” to introduce the girls as the next karaoke act where they will sing “I Am Woman.” Carrie scarfs a drink before heading to the stage. No one sober should participate in this or, I hardly need add, watch. What follows is the Jar-Jar Binks of karaoke performances. In a movie of low lights and cringe-inducing moments, I think this may be the lowest, most cringe-worthy. Who in their right mind wrote, “Then the girls go to a hotel bar in Abu Dhabi and sing ‘I Am Woman’ while a multi-national, multi-racial audience makes approving gestures.” How bad is this? It’s like an argument against women’s rights.

The 4x4ing architect comes over to hit on Samantha, who is drunk and rude. Danish fellow doesn’t care, Samantha’s sex appeal is so strong. Samantha invites him over for day and night sex—tomorrow. Tonight is girls night. Carrie is impressed by Samantha’s willpower. Samantha calls the four of them soul mates, which is true if by “soul mates” she means “therapy group” or “shopping buddies.” Carrie calls it the perfect end to a perfect day, leading me to think our values and standards are virtually diametrically opposed.

The next morning Carrie finds and reads a New Yorker Magazine review of her Vogue article. Unsurprisingly, the reviewer says that when it comes to marriage Carrie has no idea what she’s talking about and should shut up. I love the New Yorker. At breakfast the girls morph this into a discussion of how American men hate strong women. One wonders who they’re talking about: Charlotte, the intellectual lightweight with the moral conviction of tumbleweed? Samantha, the profane sex fiend who sees people only as play toys for her gratification and who has probably slept her way to the top? Carrie, the self-doubt queen and shopping aficionado who uses objects and experiences to keep from thinking about the emptiness in her soul? Miranda, the self-centered wife and mother who constantly disappoints her family as she entertains herself? If anyone of these characters is who the movie means, then, yes, American men hate strong women.

Carrie decides to miss spa day with the girls—too bad, soul mates!—and go walking on the beach. Later, she puts on too much mascara and goes to meet Aiden for dinner. She bumps into Charlotte and Miranda, sans makeup—yikes!—on her way out. Carrie is blowing off dinner with the girls to see Aiden. Charlotte warns her that she’s playing with fire. Carrie insults Charlotte repeatedly which Charlotte takes like the punching bag she is. Charlotte goes off to cry. Miranda, offering up the only solution she knows, suggests alcohol after she’s done.

At the restaurant, Carrie’s showing a lot of leg and cleavage. Aiden looks unimpressed. Guessing that he’s not looking for what Carrie’s looking for.

After Charlotte’s cry, she meets Miranda at their private hotel bar. Miranda expounds on how hard being a mother is, like she’d have any clue. We are most of the way through two movies with practically no evidence of any kind that she gives her kid the time of day. The benefits make motherhood worth it, says Charlotte, and Miranda immediately starts drinking to assuage her guilt. Miranda turns things into a confessional. She starts by admitting that while she loves her kid (really?), being a mother is not enough. Enough of what, we wonder? We’ve barely seen her be any kind of mother. She misses her job, which I believe, but it’s a telling admission. She’s 6700 miles from New York. Does she miss her son or her husband? No.

Charlotte now reveals that her kids are driving her crazy. Miranda turns this into a drinking game. Charlotte feels guilty for occasionally hating her kids. Drink! Miranda has no problem accepting this, though with more hate and less guilt in her case. They agree that being a mother is hard, though again we’ve no idea why Miranda would know this to be true. Drink! The girls toast single moms. Drink! They drink some more and Charlotte confesses that Nanny Erin is more important to her than her husband. Wow. Grrrl power. (Drink!)

Back at the restaurant, Carrie has told Aiden about Big. Aiden is married with three kids. Aiden tells Carrie she’s not like other women. He means it as a compliment, but Carrie’s unsure. After dinner, we learn that Aiden can’t memorize even four things. Then he kisses Carrie, a breach of both marital and public protocol. I guess a man gets lonely in the Middle East. They both feel badly about it afterward, and Carrie flees back to her hotel, because as we learned in the first movie, running away from problems is a favorite pastime.

There, she assembles the girls to hear her lame story about kissing Aiden. Miranda and Charlotte are still having dinner and drinks at the bar. Honestly, who cares? I don’t even think Big would care that much. Carrie wants to call Big immediately. Charlotte and Miranda are too drunk to offer coherent advice. Says Samantha, who simply must have the most experience with this sort of thing, “Say nothing.”

Samantha goes on her date and offends people at neighboring tables, probably just by showing up. She and the architect have probably broken some kind of indecency law. I’m hoping they’re reported and deported, myself. Samantha was a lot more likable in the first movie.

Carrie calls Big. She sounds like a little girl confessing to her dad, which is pretty much the relationship they have. Carrie goes through this tortured explanation of how kissing Aiden happened, finally apologizes, and Big responds, “I’m at work, Carrie. Gotta go.” Nice, Big. Let her stew in her own juices for a while. Big stares meaningfully out of the office window. Is he pondering an affair of his own? Perhaps he feels like he’s got carte blanche to have a tryst in light of this news? Or maybe the market has tanked. He’s a puzzle.

Samantha’s been arrested for giving that Danish guy a boner in public. Hey, Sam, it’s the new Middle East. Odds are that you won’t get beheaded. Carrie wakes up Miranda with the news that it was sex on the beach that got Samantha arrested. She needs a lawyer. “I’m on it!” says Miranda, hopping out of bed and ignoring the fact that she’s not qualified to practice law internationally. As the hotel manager marches in, Samantha says they were just kissing, which Carrie points out is illegal. As Samantha hands over her passport, a condom falls out. I’ve never heard of keeping one there before. The hotel manager is not impressed. Carrie and Charlotte leave the room.

Carrie is rambling on about her kiss with Aiden. Poor Charlotte is just sitting there. They apologize to each other, instead of to us like they should.

The next morning Samantha and the girls are kicked out of their hotel suite as a result of Samantha’s escapades. The sheik has cancelled the business meeting with the harlot as well. He has no interest in “doing business” with a woman who is “doing business” with some other guy. The girls scramble to get out of the $22,000 a night suite by checkout time. Carrie leaves a tip for her manservant, the first considerate self-giving act from her I believe I’ve seen in almost two movies. The girls make it in time, only to find the two cabs to the airport are rickety old Toyotas. They are basically being deported, so I got my wish.

Uh oh, I spoke too soon. Carrie can’t find her passport. Well, guess you’ll have to live there, Ms. Bradshaw. Maybe Big will visit every other Ramadan. Then Carrie remembers that she left it where she bought the shoes at the market. The girls go to the market where Samantha, wearing short shorts, is liable to be arrested any minute. Honestly, she’s a lot more crazed than I was led to believe. The Muslim shopkeeper returns Carrie’s passport and refuses a reward. Unlikely to unthinkable in the United States, but pretty much the norm for the Muslim world based on what I’ve read.

At the market, Charlotte follows strange, unknown men into a building so she can buy her husband a fake silver Rolex. Unbounded, implausible idiocy. I know Charlotte is a dolt, but I’ve seen no evidence that she’s a risk-my-own-safety kind of dolt. I have a hard time believing that she would ever do this. Samantha, having hot flashes, practically disrobes in the middle of a market. Oh my god. What is she doing? The black marketers think Samantha has stolen a fake designer purse from them, chase Samantha down, and cause a scene in the market. Arrest time for Samantha, coming up. It’s her purse, but she’s showing all kinds of skin. Seriously, if there’s an ounce of realism here, they’ll all stone her to death. She begins waving a packet of condoms and yelling at the Muslim men in the middle of their call to prayer. Rude, offensive, and megalomaniacal. Is this some kind of 9/11 payback? I’m embarrassed for, well, what? Hollywood? American filmmaking? Maybe I’m just embarrassed. This is Apocalypse Now-level horror.

A group of burka-wearing Muslim women invite the girls into a house before they can be arrested. The Muslim women claim to have enjoyed Samantha’s display, an incredibly false, disrespectful statement by the screenwriter. Feel free to hate on religion, but at least be honest about it. This is supposed to be a “look, the sisterhood crosses religious and cultural barriers” moment, but the effect is the reverse. The Muslim women have a book club and are reading the same Suzanne Sommers menopause book as Samantha. What are the odds? You’d have a better chance of being hit by lightening while winning the lottery. Turns out that while none of the burka-wearing group have been to New York, they love the fashion. How does that even make sense? The burka girls then disrobe to reveal this year’s Spring Collection. This is a fever dream. You might as well have Barak Obama walk through the door wearing a tutu. It’d be just as realistic. This simply has to be the film’s nadir, and I thought we hit that with the karaoke thing.

The girls are dressed up in burkas to get past the mob. Charlotte wanders off to buy things for her husband and kids, because that’s what you do when a mob is chasing you. They find her by looking at everyone’s shoes, as Carrie is the Sherlock Holmes of footwear. They’re unable to get a taxi until Carrie, remembering It Happened One Night, hikes up her burka to show a whole lotta leg. The girls shriek in glee while the audience throws up.

Back on board the sheik’s airplane for return to America? Seems unlikely, but there it is.

Big refuses to meet Carrie at the airport. Back at her apartment Big has absconded with the flat screen TV. Finally Big returns home. “Where you been all day?” asks Carrie. “Walking around,” replies Big. “Killing time. Torturing you.” You are two emotionally stunted people. “I’m a grown-up,” says Big, though that’s pretty debatable. “I made a vow.” Yeah, that you’ve broken twice before. Carrie apologizes profusely to Big. Again, it’s like watching a father-daughter relationship. Big decides to punish Carrie by forcing her to wear a wedding ring. Next time she misbehaves it’s probably a full-blown shopping spree at Macy’s. Big makes Carrie promise not to kiss other men. You drive a hard bargain, Big.

Miranda finds another job so she can continue to ignore her family; the Danish architect and Samantha have sex on the beach in USA—still illegal, of course; Charlotte finds out her nanny is, very conveniently, a lesbian; and Carrie and Big figure out some kind of vague, feel-good marital plan that works for them. I’m confident they’ll all continue to put the “fun” in dysfunction, much more so than this film did.