Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, The

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A movie review by James Berardinelli



Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, The

DRAMA:

United States, 2008

U.S. Release Date:

2008-08-06

Running Length:

1:57

MPAA Classification:

PG-13 (Sexual Situations)

Theatrical Aspect Ratio:

1.85:1

Cast:

Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera, Blake Lively, Amber Tamblyn, Jesse Williams, Michael Rady, Blythe Danner

Director:

Sanaa Hamri

Screenplay:

Elizabeth Chandler, based on the novels by Ann Brashares

Cinematography:

Jim Denault

Music:

Rachel Portman

U.S. Distributor:

Warner Brothers

Subtitles:

none


The strength of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, like its unnumbered predecessor, lies in the appeal and complexity of the characters. The four friends who form the backbone of the narrative are warm, believable individuals. We like them. We care about them. Those things are enough to trump the various weaknesses and contrivances associated with their storylines.

Part 2 opens by re-introducing us to the main characters and bringing us up to date about what has happened in their lives since we last encountered them. At that time, they were between their junior and senior years in high school; now, they're in college. They're headed home for the summer, but their time together is destined to be short as plans for the break are pulling them in different directions. They are learning the hard way that childhood friendships don't always survive the transition to adulthood and, when they do, they are changed. The traveling, magical pants that somehow fit them all are still being shipped from one girl to the next, but their relevance is diminished. (And one wonders, after so much time without washing, what they smell like.)

Lena (Alexis Bledel) is studying painting and, after the collapse of her romance with her Greek boyfriend, Kostas (Michael Rady), she is exploring the possibility of entering into a new relationship. Carmen (America Ferrera) enters the summer as a stagehand for a theatrical production of Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale," and ends up auditioning for one of the leads. Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) loses her virginity to her boyfriend and faces the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy (the condom breaks). And Bridget (Blake Lively) goes on an archeological dig in Turkey and ends up discovering some skeletons in her own closet. As with the first film, this is more a story of the characters being apart than together.

What director Sanaa Hamri and screenwriter Elizabeth Chandler (adapting from the popular series by Ann Brashares) have captured are the changes in young adulthood that mold us into the people we become. One character must confront death, another must consider the possibility of being a mother, and the others must face romance - all critical elements to the formation of one's personality. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 is about girls becoming women. It's about four young females discovering where they want to go in life and entering that phase with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. While there's nothing special about any of the mini-dramas that play out during the course of the movie, these characters make them compelling and interesting.

Credit the actors as much as the screenplay. Since the first The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, only one cast member has experienced a huge rise in profile, but her newfound fame as Ugly Betty hasn't impacted America Ferrera's portrayal of Carmen. In fact, the four returning leads all slip easily into their alter-egos' skins. Blake Lively is perhaps a little softer and Alexis Bledel a little flintier, but all-in-all, the actors provide satisfying versions of the characters they brought to life in 2005 - a little older and wiser, perhaps, but with the same hearts and souls.

It's curious that two of this summer's female-oriented movies have featured quartets of best friends. Other than that (and the obvious gender gap in the audience), there's little alike between The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 and Sex and the City. This film has real characters, doesn't rely on vulgar humor, and doesn't wallow in superficiality. I'm not a member of the target demographic for either film, but where Sex and the City left me cold and irritated, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 won me over (much as its predecessor did). As chick flicks go, this is one men can attend with the expectation that they might just enjoy experiencing two hours alongside these down-to-earth, appealing characters.





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