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Empty Palaces 

The glitter quotient gets stepped up, but SATC2 is a long sequel that's not worth sitting through.

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Sex¬† and the City 2 starts out with promise of being a funny and breezy film. We get to meet the franchise’s four gal pals in comic flashback — all aflutter in horrendous 1980s fashions and hairstyles — back when they first got together in New York.

But cracks in whatever passes for the film’s foundation appear almost immediately.

Quick, let’s get in the whole gay thing. Let’s have a big wedding for the TV show’s male couple, Stanford and Anthony, replete with a male chorus, all dressed in white, singing show tunes. And don’t forget the swans!Then bring out Liza Minnelli to seal it with a big “Mwah!” before she breaks into song and dance.

Hello? Is there going to be a story here? This is really just a bunch of plot points loosely thrown together. There’s nothing natural about anyone’s line delivery. They all take turns waiting for someone to finish talking so they can speak. But don’t worry. The director makes sure to have his actors turn around a lot so we can see all sides of what they’re wearing.

It’s been two years since the first film climaxed with the wedding of Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Mr. Big (Chris Noth). They’ve moved to a less-expensive apartment, but she’s still got her humongous clothes closet.(The woman sitting behind me gasped out loud when she saw it.)

But there’s trouble in paradise. Carrie’s having the marriage blahs. She’s wondering why Big now likes to stay home so much — putting his feet up on the couch with his shoes on! — instead of running around town the way they used to do. She even returns to her old place to get some writing done and to visit her old wardrobe. Or maybe just to have some time apart.

As always, this elongated episode of SATC is Carrie’s story. Sure, tough Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is having trouble at work, and sensitive Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is wondering why she had to have all those kids, and vulgar Samantha (Kim Cattrall) isn’t dealing well with aging. But they’re all just little moons orbiting Carrie’s planet.

Maybe it would’ve been fun to see these problems happily resolved. But writer-director Michael Patrick King unwisely decided to open things up, adding in a ridiculous plotline that sends the gals off to Abu Dhabi — guests of a wealthy sheik — to escape from all of their hassles.

Talk about luxury. They each get their own limo and butler but, oddly, they must share resort rooms, and one of them snores — ha ha ha! And they go to a karaoke nightclub where all four chime in on “I Am Woman.” (I’m sure Helen Reddy, who co-wrote the song, didn’t have anyone like these chirpy fashionistas in mind.)

In the midst of — what else? — shoe shopping at a street bazaar, Carrie bumps into old flame Aidan (John Corbett) and... let’s just say something happens (the woman behind me gasped again). Oh, and the Carrie-Big complications get even deeper.

The film starts wrapping up at the two-hour mark, but still finds time for Samantha to get in some cultural trouble, for slapstick misadventures in the black market, for some jokes about Paula Abdul, Suzanne Somers, and gay people.

That’s the extent of the story. The drama is weak and pointless. The comedy is overbearing and crass. But when Aidan showed Carrie a photo of his kids, the women behind me said, “Awwww.”

Bottom line: The film is sexist — about both men and women. It’s racist — mercilessly ripping Middle Eastern customs and traditions. It has somewhat intelligent characters making stupid decisions — hi there, Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha. And it’s two and a half hours long. And I mean lo-o-o-o-ng.

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