Clothes, as the old saying goes, may make the man, but according to a best-selling series of novels by Ann Brashares a pair of magical jeans changed the lives of four young women. The 2005 film The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants told the story of BFFs Bridget, Lena, Tibby and Carmen—played by Gossip’s Girls’ Blake Lively, Alexis Bledel, Amber Tamblyn and Ugly Betty’s America Ferrera—four teens at crossroads in their lives who will be separated on summer break for the first time.
Their transition to adulthood is eased by a pair of magical thrift store jeans that fit each of them, despite their varying sizes. In the story the pants become the link that joins them together. It’s a bonding movie like Sex and the City minus the Manolo Blahniks (and a few years) or Thelma and Louise without the guns that reveled in female friendship and confidence.
The new film, inventively titled The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, picks up the story three years later and sees the girls about to begin their summer break from college. Largely taken from the series’ fourth book the girls are once again separated by geography. Bridget, still stinging from her mother’s suicide has buried herself in work on an archeological dig in Turkey. Lena is now at the Rhode Island School of Design, and has fallen for a nude figure-drawing model. Tibby is enrolled in film school in New York and Carmen, on break from Yale, is in Vermont appearing in a summer stock production of The Winter’s Tale. Time and distance has forced them to drift apart, but the pants draw them together as they navigate through life’s trials and tribulations.
As in the first film, Sisterhood 2 is essentially separate stories intercut together and linked thematically. Each story follows one of the characters as they fall in or out of love; as they learn what a mean place the world can be and finally, as they discover that friendship can trump all. At almost two hours it’s a bit overlong, but video director Sanaa Hamri keeps a steady pace, skillfully interconnecting the four stories until the inevitable reunion brings them all together in the last reel.
Of the four leads it’s America Ferrera who really impresses. Her’s is a naturalistic performance with warmth, humor and sparkle. The others get by mostly through charm and batting eyes, but overall the appealing lead actors carry the movie.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 is a good escapist coming-of-age story that drew frequent choruses of oohs! and aws! from the mostly teenage female audience I saw it with. I’m not sure that the young men in the audience will find much here other than eye candy, but those willing to get involved in the story will find good messages regarding loyalty and self-belief.