Will “Sex and the City 2” achieve the big $ on Memorial Day?

And will we writers run out of double entendres in describing whether or not the latest adventures of Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and friends enjoys a satisfactory, long-lasting ticket-buying performance from their ardent audience or will it be just a case of “slam-bang-opening-weekend’s-over-ma’am?” Nope. Nor will the bad reviews “Sex and the City 2” has been getting significantly dampen the ardor of ticket buyers.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Noth in

In fact, the film is already doing rather well, as it opened early to get a jump on the long Memorial Day weekend, making $3 million on Wednesday night/Thursday morning midnight shows for the R-rated comedy from Warner Brothers. Both jolly Carl DiOrio and Anne Thompson’s b.o. guy, Anthony D’Alessandro, are bullish. Jolly Carl is talking about $60 million. I have no clue except that every “Sex and the City” fan will want to see it — once, anyway.

Nevertheless, as someone who managed to avoid the original show almost completely, it is a bit of shock to see this kind of vituperation directed against a property that was once a well-reviewed award-winner. I wasn’t too surprised when the first film got mixed reviews, since the show did have more than it’s share of detractors, but the 14% “fresh” rating from Rotten Tomatoes critics as a whole, and devastating 7% from 26 “top critics” so far is a bit of a movie cold shower. The bad reviews even inspired a bottom 10 list at Salon. Matt Zoeller Seitz, like our own Jason Zingale, notes the film’s lengthy sequence in Abu Dabi — which he terms “product placement for a country” (even though it was shot elsewhere) and titles his review: “Ladies and Gentleman, THIS is Why They hate us.” That’s about as positive as his review gets. He’s almost loving compared to the brilliant review by Lindy West:

SATC2 takes everything that I hold dear as a woman and as a human—working hard, contributing to society, not being an entitled cunt like it’s my job—and rapes it to death with a stiletto that costs more than my car. It is 146 minutes long, which means that I entered the theater in the bloom of youth and emerged with a family of field mice living in my long, white mustache.

That one of the nicer parts. I suggest, no, I implore that you read every word.

The consensus is there’s absolutely no there there or, as per Matt Seitz, what’s there is actually so materialistic and shallow, it’s actually somewhat depraved and viciously out of touch with the fact that millions of us struggling right now, even in the richest country on earth. Seitz mentions that, in a way, the “Sex and the City” franchise is like “Star Wars” for adult women. I suspect that even some of the show’s most dedicated fans may get that same sick feeling I did when the end credits rolled on “The Phantom Menace” that fateful winter’s day in 1999. It’s not fun to see something you love become something you sort of tolerate and, eventually, kind of loathe. My hunch is that at least some “Sex and the City” lovers, feeling cheap and used, may find new outlets for their passion.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma AthertonThe other major release this week is Disney’s PG-13 fantasy-adventure flick, “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” starrring Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Atherton. It’s not wowing critics, but it isn’t generating cat-calls either, which is actually kind of neat trick given it’s yet another film drawn from a video game and has generated a bit of arguably justified dissing from South-Asian groups since, in case you weren’t sure, Gyllenhaal and Atherton are not Persian names.

True, there aren’t huge numbers of bankable American actors from anywhere remotely close to modern day Iran, but then how is that ever supposed to happen if the studios refuse to cast ethnic people, other than a few African-American and Latino superstars, in leading roles? It’s a definite chicken/egg problem requiring a bit of bravery from Hollywood to solve and “bravery” and “Hollywood” are not words that  often go together. On the other hand, it’s worth mentioning that third-billed Ben Kingsley is actually half-Indian and half Jewish which, genetically speaking, may be fairly close to being a Persian.

On the other hand, producer Jerry Bruckheimer did make an interesting choice in hiring English director Mike Newell, best known for such character/dialogue driven pieces as “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “Donnie Brasco.” I have this wild and crazy idea that things like character and dialogue matter in action films. Maybe Bruckheimer has gone nuts, too. Nah.

In any case, “Prince of Persia” is not, we’re told, tracking terribly well. (Perhaps, I suggest again, video games aren’t the greatest source material for movies.) It’s expected to come in third, after “Shrek Forever After,” which will need some strong legs of its own to recover from its below-par opening last week.

As for limited releases, two notable films from France are opening in just a few theaters this weekend. The 50th anniversary restoration of Jean-Luc Godard’s genuinely groundbreaking, ultra-influential “Breathless” opens at four theaters on the coasts. Also, Jason Zingale loved “Micmacs” by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, while I’m less enthralled with it despite Jeunet’s visuals and soulful star Danny Boon’s knack for physical comedy.The slapstick comedy with a serious message, a la Chaplin, opens in a few theaters in New York, I believe, this weekend and will be opening in several more U.S. cities the following weekend. There will be more here on “Micmacs” and the filmmaker behind such acclaimed hits as “Amelie” and “The City of Lost Children” before long, unless I get hit by a bus or something.

Micmacs

It’s an accidental candid snapshot of the sick, dying heart of America, a film so pleased with its vacuous, trashy, art-free extravagance that its poster should be taped to the dingy walls of terrorist sleeper agents worldwide. More depressing and alarming than the movies themselves is the notion that a certain culture, a certain mindset, birthed it, without a pang of remorse or even apparent self-awareness, much less self-criticism.
  

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