Globe reporters and real-life couple Dave McGinn and Siri Agrell have been together since Season 4 of Sex and the City aired on HBO. Throughout the run of the TV series, they would occasionally watch the show together, and he would sometimes pretend to listen while she talked about it. This week, they attended a screening of Sex and the City 2. They couldn't help but wonder, would the movie end their relationship?
Siri In the sequel, Carrie Bradshaw and her husband of two years, John Preston [Mr. Big] consider living apart two days a week. I worry that we're going to have to do the same once this conversation is over.
Dave It's just a movie. Which, by the way, I thought was ridiculous.
Siri Ridiculously awesome!
Dave I had no idea that a movie that starts off with a pants-less Liza Minnelli could actually get worse.
Siri They did come out of the gate strong. What didn't you like about it?
Dave I understand the reason behind the first film: There needed to be a resolution of Carrie's relationship with Big. But the second one, there's no real reason for it. It's just about four girls out having a good time.
Siri And yet you go and see every superhero sequel ever made. Don't you apply that same standard? Of course they made a second one. The first one was hugely successful.
I keep hearing people say that women want to be like these characters. I don't think that's true. I think we want some of their clothes and we worry that we are like them, deep down. Siri
Dave Yeah, but with SATC 2, so many scenes are just about celebrating the brand's own success. Liza Minnelli just shows up to perform at a gay wedding. That would never happen in real life. All four of them singing I am Woman? Scenes like that just say, 'Look how great Sex and the City is.'
Siri The scene where they sing I am Woman in a Middle East nightclub actually made me pull my shirt up over my head. But at the same time, I kind of respect them for doing it. Remember when Amy Poehler did that rap in front of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live? I remember cringing because it was so awful and awkward but at the same time thinking, 'Wow, does that ever take balls.' To have half-naked middle-aged women sing that song in a Muslim country, that takes balls.
Dave What do you make of so much of the film being in Abu Dhabi? Is that them trying to remind people just how important the show was for sexual politics?
Siri I think so. There was almost too much of that in the movie. It felt like it was almost constantly winking at its critics. So taking them to the Middle East was a way of saying, 'You guys say you're so tired of us and that we're not shocking or feminist, but outside of Manhattan and the West, this is actually groundbreaking.' And I respect that, but I don't know if it's necessarily what I want to think about when I'm at a Sex and the City movie.
I had no idea that a movie that starts off with a pants-less Liza Minnelli could actually get worse. Dave
Dave On one hand, there's some slapstick and women dealing with marriage getting boring (a problem you'll never have, by the way). But then there's people getting arrested in the Middle East. I think if you're going to get into it, you have to treat it seriously.
Siri Oh, come on! I think people have this idea that because it's a film starring women it needs to be a serious women's film. It's a comedy! There have been comedies that have taken light-hearted approaches to all kinds of world issues. In Spies Like Us, does Chevy Chase have a responsibility to accurately portray the Cold War?
Dave What did you think of all the puns? They were working the word 'inter-friend-tion' really hard. Listening to a bunch of 40-year-olds talk like teenagers is embarrassing.
Siri That word sounded to me like a studio executive saying 'We need a catchphrase!'
Dave I shuddered when Kim Cattrall referred to someone as 'Lawrence of My Labia.'
Siri And that from a man who's never met a pun he didn't like. Would you ever have gone to that movie if you weren't instructed to?
Siri You wouldn't have gone with me if I asked you to?
Dave: Sure. You go with me to all the ridiculous action films. But just because I went to it doesn't mean I'll like it. Although, I see why women like it.
Siri Why do you think I like it?
Dave Because it reminds you of your relationship with your girlfriends. I'm sure most women identify with one of them, be it Carrie or Miranda or Charlotte or Samantha.
Siri Watching the second movie, I actually started to think that we're not meant to identify with just one of them. I think each one is an exaggerated personification of one female neurosis. So Carrie is my fear of commitment and Charlotte is my fear of motherhood and Miranda is the fears surrounding my career and Samantha is my fear of aging. So it's not that we idealize all of them, it's more like there are parts of each character that we recognize in ourselves and our friends.
Dave But those characters don't seem to have grown up at all. The entire series was about Carrie's pursuit of Mr. Big, and the first movie was about her finally marrying Mr. Big, but now she's worried about living a fun, exciting life with him. She calls it 'sparkle.' Don't you think she needs to face reality? And Samantha, God help us all, is eating pills to still have a crazy sex life in her 60s. If there was any guy in film whose only pursuit was getting laid, we would think of that character as a pathetic narcissist.
Siri Do you think that Hugh Hefner is a pathetic narcissist? Sam Malone of Cheers?
Dave Of course I do. Hugh Hefner has become a robed joke.
Siri But a rich one. And a man who changed the sexual politics of his time. I don't think these women are meant to be idealized. I think they're characters taken to the extreme to show the error of their ways. So we see that Carrie's screwing up her life by being so insecure about her relationships, and that Miranda's unhappy as a workaholic, and that you shouldn't have a really set ideal of motherhood like Charlotte. Every woman worries about those things. I keep hearing people say that women want to be like these characters. I don't think that's true. I think we want some of their clothes and we worry that we are like them, deep down.
Dave What didn't you like about the movie? You can't have liked all of it.
Siri There were definitely too many puns. Maybe that's because it was two hours long.
Dave Two and a half hours. Every male character is thinly drawn and just there as a stand-in for a stock boyfriend, husband or love interest.
Siri Yeah, now you know how women feel. You just described most female roles throughout time.
Dave Maybe it is better to think of the characters as comic-book characters then, because they never develop. Because seeing women approaching their 50s behaving the way they were a decade ago, that's somewhat disheartening.
Siri I don't think you should have any more expectations for their development than you do for the characters in other big-budget comedies. You're not interested in seeing Spider-Man's Peter Parker or Adam Sandler settle down and get married. And I'm not interested in seeing Samantha say, 'You know what, I'm going to close my legs and read a book.'
Dave How many of your friends will go see the movie?
Siri All of them. How many of your friends go to see comic-book movies?
Dave All of them. But we like to see explosions.
Siri So do we. Explosions of fashion. And sperm.
Dave So, can I get my own place two nights a week?
Siri Only if it's in Manhattan.