Remember playing with Barbie dolls? Didn't you love it that they didn't look like you, or any of the grown-up women you knew, and that you could dress them in wild clothing no normal person would wear, and put them in all kinds of crazy, made-up situations? Watching Sex and the City 2 is like playing with Barbies all over again. You know that Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda don't look or dress or live like regular people but you don't care. It's fantasy; it's dress up and it's fun. If you are expecting something more from this movie, don't go see it. If you're a girl - of any age - who just wants to have a good time, get your pals together and go.

You know that Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda don't look or dress or live like regular people but you don't care. It's fantasy; it's dress up and it's fun. The premise is this: at a movie premiere, Samantha's former lover, Smith, introduces her to the owner of a splendid hotel in Abu Dhabi. The sheik is impressed by how Samantha's talents as a publicist have catapulted Smith to stardom and wants her to do the same for his hotel. He invites her and her friends on an all-expense-paid, first-class trip to his spectacular city for a business meeting. The girls have their reasons for wanting to get away - reality is closing in on them. Carrie is disgusted that Big wants to eat take-out food at home and watch TV in the bedroom; Charlotte is dealing with her two troublesome daughters; Miranda is struggling to choose between work and family, and Samantha is going through menopause. It is this contrast between reality and fantasy that fascinates. Though Sex and the City 2 has been criticised for the outrageous sets and costumes, it's fun to ooh and aah with Samantha and the gang over the super-deluxe trappings: a separate Mercedes to escort each lady and her train of luggage from airplane to hotel, a butler for each of them in a lavish suite the size of a small mansion and, of course, the outrageous designer outfits that no one in their right mind would wear in public in a Middle Eastern country - or anywhere else for that matter.
Is the dialogue great? No, not really. Carrie and Big don't really talk like married people talk. And nobody, not even Samantha ought to talk like Samantha. Though her forward ways were sexy 10 years ago, they're kind of pathetic now, and rather sleazy. The film is also lacking in political correctness because Samantha is so terribly disrespectful and clueless about the customs and culture of the United Arab Emirates. And finally the jokes: often writer-director Michael Patrick King works way too hard to set them up. It appears that the only reason the girls are riding a camel is to set up a joke about "camel toe". And the delivery of those jokes is less witty sophistication and more Borscht Belt comedy. Still, in the end, the lessons the ladies learn from interacting with such a very different culture and from being far away from home and family resonate. They have grown up, and much of the audience has grown up with them. Women who once emulated the girls' Cosmo drinking ways are now dealing with their own issues of marriage, work and family. But like Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda, everybody needs to get away sometimes, and that's what this movie let's you do: pick up your Barbies again, and just pretend.

Movie reviewed by Georgina Young-Ellis

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