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6 reviews, 25 user ratings

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Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"12-Year-Old Girls Finally Have Their Own 'Sin City'"
3 stars

I have never moisturized. I have never had a tearful, life-changing epiphany while surrounded by my lifelong pals while an inspirational ballad exhorting me to breathe blared in the background. And with the possible exception of a Psychedelic Furs concert shirt that I used to own in the mid-eighties, I have never fetishsized or mythologized any item of clothing. Therefore, I am willing to be the first to concede that I may not be the target audience for the new film “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” In fact, I would also be willing to simply admit that anyone who thinks that they might enjoy this film–mostly the legion of fans that adored the original Ann Brashares novel–will probably find that it will satisfy the 13-year-old girl in them in the same way that “Revenge of the Sith” satisfies the 13-year-old boy and let the whole matter rest right there. Alas, since the notion of a one-paragraph review probably won’t thrill those editors expecting a full-length piece, I shall press on.

The film centers on four lifelong pals–shy Lena (Alexis Bleidel), hot-to-trot Bridget (Blake Lively), cynical Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) and outgoing Carmen (America Ferrara)–as they prepare to spend their first summer of their lives apart from each other. Lena is going to Greece to stay with family, Bridget is off to soccer camp in Mexico, Carmen is going to South Carolina to spend some quality time with her long-absent father(Bradley Whitford) and Tibby is staying in town, slaving away at a store not a million miles removed from Wal-Mart while making a documentary about . . . well, about something or other. While shopping before separating, the quartet comes across an ordinary-looking pair of blue jeans that inexplicably manages to fit each of the girls perfectly despite their radically different body types. (See, this is what I mean about not being the target audience–can you imagine a group of guys not only shopping for clothes together but trying on the same pair of pants as well?) The girls decide that the pants must somehow be magic and vow to pass them amongst themselves for the summer, with each one getting them for a week at a time before sending them off, and dub themselves “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”–a group that seems to resemble the Ya-Ya Sisterhood before they got their first fake ID’s.

Before long, each one finds themselves front-and-center in their very own chick flick. Lena arrives in Greece and immediately meets Kostas (Michael Rady), the cutest guy under the age of 400 on the island, when he saves her after she falls in the drink–inevitably, she begins to blossom (you know what I mean) even as she learns that he is forbidden saganaki since his family and hers are involved in an ancient feud. Bridget arrives at camp, gets the hots for one of her soccer instructors (Mike Vogel) and immediately begins throwing herself at him with all the subtlety of a brick to the head. Carmen arrives at her dad’s house and discovers that he kind of forgot to mention a few things to her–he not only has a new girlfriend (Nancy Travis) but is about to marry her and, with her kids from a previous marriage, form the whitest family on the planet. As for Tibby, she sulks around with her camera and helps save a girl, Bailey (Jenna Boyd), who passes out in the store–in repayment, Bailey appoints herself Tibby’s assistant and teaches her to look at the world with a brighter eye. (Anyone who can deduce from that description that Bailey has a Tragic Secret can go to the head of the class, or at least a different movie.)

By combining four of the hoariest chick-flick (a phrase I hate, but when in Rome) plot templates around into one two-hour film, “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” could be described as “Sin City” for tweeners (and not just because Alexis Beldel appears in both). The difference, of course, is that “Sin City” threw enough twists into the narrative to keep viewers on their toes. This film, by comparison, is content to allow its predictable stories to reach their equally predictable conclusions–stop reading if you don’t want to discover that Lena learns to break out of her shell, mostly by jumping into the sea in her underwear, Bridget learns, too late, that trampiness is not necessarily a virtue, Carmen learns to come to terms with the fact that her father now has a new life and Tibby learns the preciousness of life while watching her little chum waste away with that classic movie disease that exists solely to allow the acquaintances of the deceased to have a spiritual awakening–and doesn’t add anything particularly new to the mix, unless you count the much-appreciated digression into the genius of the classic arcade game “Dragon’s Lair.” Of course, most of the young target audience for this film will probably not have experienced the two-odd decades of variations on these themes that I have seen and for them, the storylines may prove to be a little fresher and more relevant for those thus unexposed to the likes of “Romeo and Juliet,” “Little Darlings” and “Love Story.”

Of the stories, I probably liked the ones involving Lena and Carmen the best simply because Bledel and Ferrara (the enormously appealing star of “Real Women Have Curves”) are charming enough to hold interest even when the stories flirt with the ridiculous. (Carmen’s father is portrayed as so clueless and out of it–we even see him having a hearty, happy, white-bread meal with his family even though Carmen is supposedly missing–that it is impossible to believe that he could have developed enough interest in another person to father her in the first place.) The Bridget story, with its theme of the emotional perils of teen hanky-panky, would seem to be the most relevant and significant but tries to give itself an out from what should have been a tough and heartfelt conclusion by tacking on an incredibly unlikely final scene that tries to put a happy face on the situation. (Aww, the older guy that deflowered her in Mexico comes to visit her!) The Tibby story is the weakest of the bunch–it is the most predictable of the bunch and the made-for-TV angst of Tamblyn’s character makes for one of the least-believable teen cynics in recent memory. (Real teen cynics wouldn’t be caught dead with an Avril Lavigne poster on their bedroom walls.)

Jean-Luc Godard once said that the best way to review a film was to make another film and by a strange coincidence, there is another film coming out in a couple of weeks that also tracks the lives of a couple of teenage girls over the course of one memorable summer in a far more interesting manner than “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.”. It is a British film entitled “My Summer of Love” and while it is extremely unlikely that it will score the covers of the big teen magazines or land its stars on “TRL,” it is a smart and thoughtful film that fully remembers the excitements, agonies and messiness of youth without wrapping things in a made-for-WB cocoon. For those lucky enough to see it at the right time, this is the kind of film likely to become an important touchstone in their lives. By comparison, “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” isn’t awful–it beats any of the recent Hilary Duff films like a gong–but it is the kind of slick, flashy thing that may look okay for a few days, only to be thrown in the back of the closet and forgotten forever.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12399&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/01/05 00:00:49
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User Comments

1/29/14 Monday Morning Would like to screw America Ferrara until her ears bleed. 2 stars
12/23/12 Keith Miron Good looking young people in this so-so drama 3 stars
1/31/11 art America FERRARA was a STANDOUT,although she was A HAM! 3 stars
5/30/10 jody labo amazing movie!!! great themes 5 stars
7/29/08 the dork knight I'd like to get in those sisterhood pants. Hoo baby 4 stars
11/17/07 David Pollastrini hot women in this! 3 stars
6/26/07 Katie Very cute. I loved how they showed sex outside of marriage as being unfullfilling. 4 stars
10/22/06 William Goss Ideal for teen girls, pretty petty for everyone else. America fares best of the four. 3 stars
10/22/06 Lizzie absolutely great for men and women of all ages Be prepared to cry! 5 stars
5/22/06 maggie it was a good movie but it didnt have some details that lead to a part in the movie 4 stars
4/28/06 Loz enertaining and inspirational, i cried. Loved it! 5 stars
12/26/05 nabila khouri this movie is great!!!! i've watched it 3 times in one day......totally great. 5 stars
12/14/05 Sherry McCourt I loved the movie, and even cried. The books are fantastic. Hopefully there will be more. 5 stars
10/18/05 Valerie Cool movie. 4 stars
10/11/05 The Velcro Warlock PC-mongers really sittin down on job,lettin film w/"sisterhood" in title be so inoffensive! 3 stars
9/14/05 jes this movie was the best movie ever created ilove blake livley in the movie 5 stars
9/03/05 Stephanie Throckmorton Not great, but better than I imagined any film with "Sisterhood" in the title could be! 3 stars
7/01/05 Eric Rollins What's next Steel Magnolia Ya-Ya Beaches? 2 stars
6/22/05 ME I love this movie 5 stars
6/19/05 Norma Parker sweet 4 stars
6/13/05 Becca Hosch Awesome movie! 5 stars
6/08/05 b landers Very cute girl movie. 3 stars
6/03/05 Vicky It was soo awesome...and really touched me, I cried the whole time non-stop 5 stars
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  01-Jun-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 11-Oct-2005



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