Guys will need a MacGruber dirt bath to survive the estrogen explosion that is Sex and the City 2. But the makers of this follow-up to the 2008 box-office hit ($158 million) and the 94 episodes of the HBO series that preceded it know their audience. Sex 2 defines the pleasures of a Ladies Movie-Night Out (gay friends welcome). Talk of men, motherhood and menopause is powered by the worship of shoes, fashion, spending and anything with a chichi label.
Whatever goodwill the film generates comes from celebrating friendship among women. After a promising start with Carrie (the sparkling, scrappy Sarah Jessica Parker) and Big (Chris Noth) enduring the "terrible twos" of their marriage, sex-crazed Samantha (Kim Cattrall) packs off the girls, including newly unemployed lawyer Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and harried mother of two Charlotte (Kristin Davis), for a freebie week in beautiful, buttoned-down Abu Dhabi. Temptations abound as the free-spirited women clash with tradition. Their bond survives, but the verdict is still out on the nation of Islam. Luckily, writer-director Michael Patrick King shot the film in Morocco. Abu Dhabi and the other United Arab Emirates might have issued a fatwa against the R-rated carnality and Samantha's thoughts about the desert as "Lawrence and my labia."
At two and a half hours, Sex 2 — like its predecessor — is a long sit in the shallows, the equivalent of five half-hour episodes strung together. Only two episodes, both before the stupefying Abu Dhabi jaunt and the painful karaoke of "I Am Woman," are really worth your time. Sex 1 had three. Prepare to come up short.