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Megan Fox's Ass

By Dustin Rowles | Film Reviews | May 28, 2010 | Comments ()


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The Sex and the City movies are a uniquely no-win situation for everyone involved -- the filmmakers and the cast, who are trying to give the audience what they want, and the critics (who aren't being paid millions of dollars to be put in this position), who are called upon to pass judgment on what it is the target audience wants. They're bad movies, and I don't think anyone -- including those who willingly pay to see them -- will dispute that. They're poorly scripted, over-the-top, badly acted, and dumb. Really fucking dumb. And depending on your perspective, they're offensive, too. So, it's something of a competition among critics. The few female critics -- or at least the respected ones -- angle to out-feminist one another in their critiques, while the male critics -- who make up the largest percentage of reviewers -- aim to out-trash the movie, all the while maintaining that their gender (or the fact that they never watched the series) has no bearing on their critiques while also defending the occasional charge of misogyny, some fair, some not so fair (it's probably fair to assume that certain male critics -- especially those that seldom get laid -- use the occasion to air their grievances against the female gender).

I have to concede, however, that the gender of the critic does play a role, maybe not in assessing the quality of the movie, but in placing it in the right cultural context. For instance, nobody liked Transformers 2, either, and collectively we piled a lot of vitriol upon that shit-heap. But little, if any, of that vitriol was directed at the millions of teenage boys -- both literally and figuratively -- who saw it. Meanwhile, many of the attacks on SATC do feel gender oriented. It's a movie specifically aimed at a female audience, and it's not out of line for that audience -- whether they like the movie or not -- to take umbrage with some of the characterizations of those critiques.

I see it this way: SATC is the female equivalent of Transformers, and the excessive wardrobe budget is not that dissimilar to paying $8 million to plaster Megan Fox's ass all over a movie. Yet, men get a pass for paying $10 to watch Megan Fox's ass bounce up and down a movie set, while women are maligned as vapid or shallow for taking the same pleasure in gawking at shoes and the various male objects of fantasy that are scattered throughout the SATC movies.

It is a double standard. But double standard or not, it doesn't change the fact that Sex and the City 2 is an embarrassingly terrible film. It's two-and-a-half hours of well-lit, well-dressed emptiness. There is nothing in this movie that isn't designed to feature different aspects of the extravagant wardrobe, just like Transformers 2 is specifically designed to set up extravagant action sequences. The story, in either respect, is non-existent. But that's beside the point, isn't it? Take this pull quote from the LAT's positive review of Prince of Persia: "It's like two hours of July 4th fireworks, only with flying swords and sandstorms, and raging battles and mystical palaces rising out of the desert." I don't see how SATC is any different, if you replace the swords, sandstorms, and battles with shoes, outfits, and hats -- even SATC has a mystical palace rising out of the desert. You can't necessarily disqualify this shitty escapist movie because it appeals to a different demographic, can you? They just use different set pieces.

There's a definite narrative pattern in SATC 2: Each of the four women does something banal individually, followed by a scene in which they get together and process that banality, usually while drinking and wearing something colorful or with feathers. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is contending with a rutted marriage. After two years of matrimonial bliss, Big (Chris Noth) likes to come home and watch television; Carrie is afraid they're going to become an old married couple. Meanwhile, Samantha (Kim Catrall) is dealing with menopause by resorting to a vigorous vitamin regimen designed to keep old age at bay. This regimen also includes rubbing lotion on her vagina at the workplace. Charlotte has two children, one of which cries constantly, who are driving her insane, despite the fact that she has a full-time nanny, who she feels slightly threatened by because the nanny talks with an accent and doesn't wear a bra. Also, she likes to run. Finally, Miranda has an asshole for a boss, and she's trying to get out from beneath an abusive employment situation and find the proper balance between her professional and personal lives.

Rather than deal with their problems, the four women take a week-long trip to Abu Dhabi, where they alternatively drink and process, drink and process. If you were so inclined, there's a lot you could take offense to here: Their disrespect of the culture, the extravagance they are afforded (they each get their own luxury car and their own butler), and the way they choose to comport themselves -- not just in Abu Dhabi, but in the entire movie -- while the country is mired in a recession. Is it tactless to release a movie that glorifies consumption during hard economic times? It seems like a petty complaint to lob against a Hollywood movie, which are often about wish fulfillment. But it's an easy critique to offer up. Most offensive of all to me, however, were the groan-worthy puns and the hideous word play littered throughout the film ("Abu Dhabi Doo!" "Bedouin, Bath and Beyond," "Lawrence of my Labia").

In the end, of course, everything resolves nicely. There's not a lot of conflict to speak of in Sex and the City 2. It's an endless and tedious succession of hats and shoes and dresses, in much the same way that Transformers 2 is an endless and tedious succession of asses and fights and explosions. I don't find much value in either, though I suppose I'm less inclined to quibble with Megan Fox's ass in much the same way some may not quibble as much with close-ups of shoes.

I'll grant, too, that there are some passing nods to strong female role models in the movie, and the way the characters claim represent them. If you define female empowerment as the ability to fuck and spend without remorse or regret, wear the latest in fashion, saddle your children with full-time nannies, and be as vapid and narcissistic as you please, then the feminist aspect must be considered a success. After all, don't we celebrate the same in many male characters, like Wall Street's Gordon Gekko?

As a critic, I can safely qualify Sex and the City 2 as an unredeemable mess. Even as escapist entertainment, it's a massive failure. It's boring, incoherent, sloppily stitched together, and thoughtless. Each and every individual, save for Steve (as usual), is unlikable, and their problems are so trivial as to be offensive (the climactic scenes involve trying to catch a flight early enough to avoid having to fly in coach.)

As a cinematic mannequin upon which a massive wardrobe is built, however, I'm not really qualified to assess, except to say this: Even the most red-blooded heterosexual American male would probably get tired of watching Megan Fox's ass bounce around for two and a half hours. But then again, Megan Fox's ass rarely wears gaudy hats.



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