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“Sex and the City 2”: Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is why they hate us.

“Sex and the City 2”: Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is why they hate us. (photo)

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A friend describes the “Sex and the City” films as “Ladies’ ‘Star Wars.'” The description isn’t far off the mark — not just because the TV series and the spinoff films are critic-proof revenue-generators, but also because Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her gal pals inhabit a universe so far removed from anything resembling reality that it might as well be science fiction.

Picking up where the second film left off — as if there were a story! — “Sex 2” revolves around Carrie’s two-year-old and suddenly troubled marriage to the twice-divorced older hunk, Big (Chris Noth). And of course it features perfunctory detours into the lives of Carrie’s best friends, Samantha (Kim Cattrall), who’s over 50, still sexed-up, and ingesting dozens of vitamins a day; Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), who’s struggling with a sexist boss and the demands of the domestic life that her work life forces her to neglect; and Charlotte (Kristin Davis), who’s feeling beaten up by her life as a mom and worrying that her husband is about to have an affair with their big-titted Irish nanny.

But really — surprise! — the film is all about the clothes, the food, and the real estate. Aside from a couple of moments that briefly remind you of the character- and acting-based charm that redeemed the series — for instance, Miranda and Charlotte’s drunken admissions that a lot of the time, being a parent flat-out sucks — this film, like its predecessor, buries the smoldering embers of its nearly extinguished humanity beneath a mountain of gaudy baubles.

The ladies model hyper-expensive, often stunningly tacky dresses, shoes and hats (including a Carrie chapeau that looks like a smashed popover made of wicker), dine in expensive restaurants, drink at hip bars, and lounge around apartments that are characterized in dialogue and voice-over as modest even though they’re big enough to house the mother ship from “Close Encounters.” (Carrie’s closet in the apartment she shares with Big has a center aisle wide enough for a comfy bench.)

And at the 40-minute mark, writer-director Michael Patrick King ratchets the excess up several notches by sending the gals on a trip to Abu Dhabi, where Samantha has been invited on an all-expenses-paid fact-finding mission to help a sheik craft a PR campaign for his a luxury hotel. Everything — plot, characterization, simple exposition — ceases for several minutes so that Carrie and friends can be presented with fabulous bedrooms, a fabulous private bar, a fabulous kitchen, and fabulous hunky man servants and luxury cars. (Although these scenes take place in the United Arab Emirates, they were shot in Morocco. But they still constitute what might be a movie first: product placement for a country.)

05262010_SexandtheCity2-15.jpgLike the characters’ customary melodramas back in the States, only more so, the Abu Dhabi folderol is inoculated against any possibility of real discomfort, however comic and momentary. Except for a few fleeting touches, such as Charlotte’s disclosure that she’s decided not to use her married name, Goldenblatt, on this trip, the movie erects (ahem) a wall between the ladies and their far-away playground, providing the women with a team of visiting Australian soccer players to ogle, giving Carrie a visiting (white) American ex-boyfriend to flirt with, and contriving a romance between Samantha and a Dutch tycoon named Dick Spyrt. (God forbid that nice American girls should get it on with beautiful Muslim boys!)

The final comic setpiece — which finds the heroines escaping faux-peril in a bazaar by dressing in burqas — is indeed offensive, not because Abu Dhabi has been characterized as a huge adult amusement park for rich, Botoxed white ladies (that’s how “Sex and the City” treated New York, remember?) but because of the moment when the film diminishes the complex and culturally deep-rooted gender apartheid of fundamentalist Muslim society by having a group of Muslim women strip off their traditional garb to reveal Carrie-approved Western haute couture underneath. As lighthearted sight gags go, it’s a few degrees removed from the moment in “Full Metal Jacket” when an officer declares that inside every gook there’s an American trying to get out.

05262010_SexandtheCity2-12.jpgStung, perhaps, by complaints that the first “Sex” film was aggressively insensitive to American financial hardship circa 2008, the sequel peppers its dialogue with references to financial struggle. But from my perspective (and a lot of people’s, I’d wager) they’re “struggles” on par with trying to find a parking spot on a busy avenue during lunch hour.

Carrie tried to sell her amazing bachelorette pad, but she couldn’t find a buyer, so she had to keep it (and it comes in handy when she decides she needs to escape Big’s passive-aggressive homebody sourness). We also learn that Carrie and Big traded their penthouse apartment for a seemingly identical-sized place a few floors lower in the same building. The horror!

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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