Once upon a time in New York City there lived four beautiful friends who shared the naked truth about their lives and loves with one another and opened their hearts to women all over the world.  Once upon a time in deepest, darkest Essex I fell utterly and irrevocably in love with them all…

But lord how they’ve tried my patience tonight!

For the six seasons Sex and the City ran it was my idea of televisual perfection.  Sure it was flawed, and yes some of the scenarios the quartet faced were as improbable as the clothes they wore, but when it was good it was really, really, good.  I saw the first film on the day it opened and it too was flawed yet I kept the faith.  I wanted to believe Sex and the City 2 could bring the fabulous back to the franchise.  It is with great sadness that I must report it did not.

The second Sex and the City film poses the question: what happens after you say “I do”?  Carrie and Big are settling into married life on Fifth, and if their apartment isn’t the heaven of the first film, it is at least in the celestial ballpark.  Charlotte is the proud Mother of two little girls, Miranda as successful and high-achieving as ever and Samantha…

Well Samantha still has the comedy dog.

Everyone is sitting pretty in New York City and the movie opens with the glitzy wedding of two of our favourite co-stars.  The ladies have Birkins, babies and Botox, what more could one ask from life?

A great deal apparently.  None are content.  Carrie is finding that married life lacks “sparkle” while Samantha’s 52 years are playing on her mind and her libido.  Miranda feels unappreciated at work and Charlotte has troubles of the sexy Nanny kind.  If this were 1998 we’d have the ingredients for an entire box set of compulsory viewing.  Unfortunately here in 2010 we have to endure 146 minutes of bad puns and lazy plot devices.  I had gathered from the trailer that the movie wandered to foreign shores but I didn’t realise quite how meandering a journey it would take.

I really hate to SATC bash but I don’t know what else to do.  It felt as though Michael Patrick King had never written for these characters before.  The best way I can describe this film is as a rom com based upon characters from the TV show Sex and the City.  As though the franchise was opened up for new writers to rework and reinterpret as they saw fit.  The very worst infringement of all was taking the women out of New York City – taking the City out of Sex and the City!  Without a city it lost its soul and became small minded and small town.  Given the depressing, uniformly smooth, foreheads of our leads, I suspect that town was Stepford.

I’m rather cross with myself tonight because I should have known better, I’d heard rumblings of the badness I simply chose to ignore them.  There were moments of connection with the spirit of SATC past – moments when the heartfelt friendship between the women shone through.  When tempers flare between Carrie and Charlotte as Carrie struts away for a reunion with her dating history, you can feel the potential for a better film brush across the screen.  And then it is gone.

If this were a film of another name it would perhaps be judged less harshly.  The racial stereotyping is unforgivably tacky and the four leads poorly drawn but Sex and the City 2 has some redeeming features.  The costumes, as ever, are gloriously far-fetched and at least two of the cameos drew gasps of delight from the rapt audience.  It’s a big, camp, ridiculous mess but somehow it is also rather endearing.  There is a vulnerability to each of these women that permeates the homogenised soap opera issues they have been given to play out and for this reason I cannot think too unkindly of it.

I believe that Sex and the City will survive this film, fans will accept its flaws and forgive its trespasses.  After all, that’s what you do when you’re in love…

Sex and the City 2 opens across the UK today