There’s a moment at the beginning of Sex and the City 2 where Standford Blatch, Carrie’s best gay friend, remarks “remember that summer I was really into cocaine? This was like that.” By “this” I assume he means the movie.

Because there are moments where Sex and the City 2 does provide the kind of rush that the TV show was known for. It’s pure escapist fun and, largely set in the Middle East, it seems more removed from mundane realities than ever. Hey, who doesn’t want to wear $15,000 worth of clothes every single day? Or hang out in a Sheik’s palace? Or have Liza Minelli sing at their wedding (though what she does to Single Ladies is truly, truly frightening)? The movie is filled with the same glittering parties and clothing and shoes as always, and, if you switch off the thinking part of your brain and just absorb how pretty everything is, it can be a lot of fun.

But then the buzz wears off. And, viewed in a more sober light, it appears that the unintentional Diane Arbus effect referred to in the first Sex and the City movie has definitely taken hold.

Consider, for instance, Samantha. There is an age when it becomes undignified to make jokes about your talent for fellatio, and that age is called whatever-Kim-Cattrall-was-five-years-ago. In this movie, Samantha has stopped being a woman who just enjoyed sex, and started being something cartoonish. I found myself thinking of Blanche in Golden Girls, but then, when Samantha made it to the Middle East I realized that Blanche never would have been so idiotic. Because parading through Abu Dhabi in shorts and a tank top, thrusting condoms at a pile of conservative men and miming sex gestures isn’t cute or sassy or a feminist statement – it’s just disrespectful. And it’s the kind of thing that will get you attacked on the street in a Middle Eastern country. I seriously wondered if they were implying that the character was in the process of having a seizure at one point (it’s he point where she writhes on the ground in front of Middle Eastern men declaring “I like sex a lot!” and for a second I thought “oh, God, she’s dying, this is some sort of stroke/seizure thing I would know about if I watched House more.” She wasn’t).

Meanwhile, while Samantha was busy writhing like an epileptic, Charlotte appears to have taken up a new hobby. And that hobby is crying. Whenever I tell people that Charlotte was my favorite SATC character, they often reply with something along the lines of “oh, you just liked her because she seemed so fragile and needy.” Totally the opposite. I’ve always loved Charlotte because I think the fact that she was able to deal with issues that would make most people bitter and cynical and still emerge optimistic and kind and open to people is a sign of great strength. So seeing her spend just about every scene in a tizzy over whether Harry was cheating on her and crying, or feeling slighted by one of the girls and crying – well, it sort of ruined her for me. That, and those godawful pants she wore on the camel.

On the upside, Miranda seems pretty nice.

But, Carrie, oh, Carrie. If you want a reason to REALLY hate Carrie Bradshaw, you’ll find plenty to choose from here. Poor Mr. Big. He only wanted to sit in his apartment and eat take-out occasionally. Why couldn’t she just let the man sit down for a night and eat some Chinese food? And, while there are many appropriate ways to respond when your spouse gets you an anniversary gift you don’t like, the only wrong way to respond is “why didn’t you get me jewelry?” When Carrie stares at Big and asks if he’s mad because she’s “a bitch wife who is always nagging him” I kept rooting for him to say “yes.” Though I suppose it’s a good sign that Carrie was at least somewhat self aware.

Ultimately, the movie seems to confirm everyone’s worst suspicions about the television show. The women seem outrageously neurotic – if neurotic in $50,000 dresses. The movie certainly packs a fun little jolt with its visuals, but it’s one that might be best enjoyed with the sound off.