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Sex, terrible twos, shoes and the blues

"Sex and the City" movies:

That's where grown women go to swoon like love-struck teenagers at romance, riches and designer shoes just like their daughters roll their eyes back in ecstasy for the brooding vampires and hunky werewolves of the "Twilight" franchise.

It's all slightly decadent fantasy-romance at a distance.  Dangerous?  Who knows?  But at least there's cinematic equality.  The men have their wealthy suave anti-heroes in iron super-suits, while the boys can visually play with "Transformers" and think of Megan Fox.

"Sex and the City 2," the sequel to the first feature in 2008 and, of course, the opulent flirty comic HBO series (1998-2004), is all about the terrible twos.  Or, to pinpoint the dilemma, the two-year itch.

Charlotte (Kristin Davis), with two kids (including a constantly crying toddler) at home, represents the usual definition of the term in this overlong sequel written, directed and produced once again by Michael Patrick King (a holdover from the TV series).

Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) grates the nerves of her law firm boss (an all-too-brief cameo by comedian Ron White) who can't stand strong women, and Samantha (Kim Cattrall), still single and on the prowl as usual, battles the onset of menopause.

The heart of the "Sex and the City" feline-like foursome, of course, is clever essayist Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker).  Carrie has her man, Mr. Big (Chris Noth), and her big -- make that gigantic -- walk-in closet.  What's missing after two years of co-inhabiting as a married couple is, says Carrie, "sparkle."

Carrie still wants to do the town.  Big, meanwhile, has grown so accustomed to the designer couch that he might sprout potatoes at any moment.  What to do, what to do?

In the vintage musicals of the '40s, someone would shout, "Hey, let's put on a show!" about this time.  But this film pays homage to Busby Berkeley musicals in the first reel with an extravagant gay wedding complete with swans, an all-male chorus in white and Liza Minnelli in black.

So it's off to the new Middle East (with Morocco doubling for the United Arab Emirates).  Via a contrived plot twist, a filthy rich investor invites Samantha to check out his gaudy, extravagant hotel in Abu Dhabi.  She will if her gal pals can tag along on the sheik's Dirham.

From this aisle seat, it seems odd that writer-director King chooses to take his central characters so identified with the Big Apple on what is basically a Hope and Crosby road trip to the casbah.

Leave it to Carrie, though.  She finds designer shoes even in a crowded marketplace.  And when she's not trying on shoes more befitting a genie, old flame Aidan (John Corbett) sort-of magically appears to scratch (and possibly infect) the two-year itch.

I like the way King evens the score a little when it comes to opposite-sex ogling.  In "Sex and the City 2," the dirty old men of Hollywood (in control for decades) take a backseat to a woman who views male bodies as slabs of beefcake.

At two and a half hours, though, even Samantha's funny menopause rants become tiresome.  This is a frivolous, overly indulgent, two-Cosmos (at least) sequel.


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