SEX AND THE CITY 2 Brendan Fraser doesn't even bother showing up in these mummy movies anymore.

I'M EITHER THE WORST or the best person to review Sex and the City 2. Up until now, I've kept Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda at the same distance I would if I personally encountered them during happy hour at Red Robin—which is to say very, very far away. On one hand, I have a fresh set of eyes; on the other, I have little to no context for these characters.

Turns out it doesn't really matter either way. I'm here to report that—though I still wouldn't share my bottomless margarita bowl with the ladies—Sex and the City 2 is a well-constructed two and a half hours. I had to spend the preliminary moments of the story playing catch-up, but that's fine because there are a whopping 45 minutes of set-dressing before the girls get on a plane and the plot begins, which is more than enough time to learn that: Miranda (a red-headed scarecrow) is feeling overworked and underappreciated; Carrie (a painted horse who talks like a theater major) is scared of turning into a boring stay-at-home married couple with her husband, Big; Charlotte (a pinched mouth, with buggy eyes) is worried that her husband, Mr. Clean, will cheat on her with their hot nanny; and Samantha (a whore) is a whore.

Foibles and neuroses established, it's off to Abu Dhabi, courtesy of an Arabian sheik who wants Samantha to shine a favorable light on his home state and drum up some good PR. "I've always been fascinated by the Middle East," gushes Carrie. "Desert moons, Scheherazade, magic carpets...." As it turns out, there's more to the United Arab Emirates than Disney's Aladdin prepared her for. Arabian men (not the cute ones) can be downright rude when they encounter empowered 21st century harpies! (It's probably not surprising that at one point, Kim Cattrall ends up on her knees surrounded by condom wrappers in a busy street cursing the backward men around her.)

For most of its runtime, though, Sex and the City 2 is basically the gayest fan-fiction ever put to celluloid: familiar faces in new settings, guest stars (Miley! Liza! Tim Gunn!), and lots and lots of bad wordplay. It's a sequel with, for better or worse, tremendous affection for its characters, which goes a long way toward watchability—and while real fans may consider this bit of fanfic a non-canonical outrage, this outsider thought that, for what it is, it was just fine.