NEW YORK // The Sex and the City women who made Manolos and the Magnolia Bakery famous have another indulgence on their list this time around: Abu Dhabi. However, most of the women who flocked to see Sex and the City 2 on its opening day in Manhattan were more interested in the clothes worn by the four stars than they were in the foreign city. Women carried cupcakes as they queued for more than 45 minutes at the Lincoln Square Movie Theatre on Manhattan's Upper West Side, while chatter from the women who exited the theatre after seeing the film were mostly about the wardrobe assembled by the movie's famous stylist, Patricia Field; they gushed over those "beautiful flowy dresses" and "amazing Louboutin shoes."
"The best thing about the movie was the fashion," said Aliyah Donn, who will be visiting family in Dubai with her friend Jenna Wojciechowski next month. It will be Ms Wojciechowski's first visit to the UAE. "I definitely won't kiss anyone over there," Ms Wojciechowski said. While the two girls lusted over the dresses and the "ethnic spice market" portrayed in the film, their friend Alexa Voskerichian, who was quiet for most of our brief conversation, interrupted to add her two cents: "I don't know how accurate all the portrayals were." Her friends then paused for a moment and nod at the thought. "I haven't been to the United Arab Emirates in 10 years," Ms Donn responded. "Maybe it has changed so much since I last saw it."
Twenty or so blocks south, in Times Square, two mothers in their thirties, Kimberly O'Conner and Jennifer Jordan, are standing outside a cinema. Both women are dressed to the nines. Mr O'Conner is wearing a satin emerald-blue dress and open-toe heels, while Ms Jordan is decked out in a glittery dress, pearly gold shoes and a Gucci handbag. In addition to the fashion, the mothers connected with the movie's portrayal of motherhood through the characters of Miranda and Charlotte. "We both totally related to them," Ms O'Conner said. In the film, Miranda and Charlotte bond over drinks as they lament how difficult it is to be the "perfect mother".
"I would love to go there one day. The scenery was wonderful and the culture is interesting," Ms Jordan said of Abu Dhabi. It was the first time either woman had heard of the emirate, though both were aware of Dubai. Ms Jordan said the movie made her want to learn more about the UAE, and when I asked her if she could locate the Emirates on a map she immediately turned to Ms O'Conner for guidance. "Well," the latter said, "in the movie they say they were flying over Africa, so it should be somewhere around here, right?" she asked as she points to a spot on the map.
Though the fashion got a thumbs-up from the women of Manhattan, people in the UAE are not missing much else, according to critics. Since the movie premiered on Thursday, a slew of scathing reviews have been published. Claudia Puig, a critic at USA Today, called it "tasteless," while The New York Times added its own critique of the much-awaited movie. Besides lamenting that the franchise has "diminished charm" the second time around, the Times concluded that the movie simply "isn't much fun at all." Nevertheless, Sex and the City 2 is already a hot topic on Twitter, and stores such as Magnolia Bakery, which created a "Carrie cupcake," have capitalised on the buzz surrounding the movie.
No, the reviews haven't stopped women of "the City" from heading to the movie theatres. When she went to see the first SATC film Jordan Dottley stole into the theatre and had to share a seat with her friend, because she had failed to buy a ticket to the (sold-out) screening in time. This time around, Ms Dottley is sitting on the floor of the Lincoln Square theatre with another friend, Brittany Blake, on opening night, a full 45 minutes before curtain, even though she said the first movie did not live up to its expectations. Ms Blake says she's here because "it's one of these movies that you just have to see."
"I liked the first one even though they said it's bad, and I heard this one is even worse," she said with a chuckle. "But whenever you see the skyline of Manhattan and hear the movie's soundtrack, you can't help but get excited," she added. Except, this time, most of the movie is based in an entirely different continent. "Didn't they shoot the Prince of Persia there? Or the Prince of Egypt?" Ms Dottley asked rhetorically about the new locale. She searched for the United Arab Emirates on the map and points to Egypt. "It should be here, right?" After scrambling for a few moments, she looked up and said, "it definitely isn't here, so where exactly is Abu Dhabi?" * The National