THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS (Ken Kwapis, 2005)
In THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS four friends swap a pair of jeans that magically fit them all. Since the summer brings the first time the girls have been separated from each other, the pants provide a connection during their adventures in Greece, Mexico, South Carolina, and their hometown Bethesda, Maryland. Each girl writes a story of her experiences with the pants and then ships them to the next wearer. Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera, Amber Tamblyn, and Blake Lively star as Lena, Carmen, Tibby, and Bridget.
The bulk of director Ken Kwapis’ experience has come on episodic television, which is appropriate since THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS feels like a supersized TV show. The film shifts efficiently among four familiar coming-of-age stories. The pleasant actresses compensate for the originality and surprises that SISTERHOOD lacks. Bledel gives a nicely understated performance as the demure one. Tamblyn registers some touching moments in a role that amounts to an extension of her JOAN OF ARCADIA character. Ferrera finds the right tone to play the daughter who doesn’t feel she’s a priority in her father’s life, especially when she meets her future stepfamily. Carmen’s storyline could have scaled down the injustices piled on her—dealing with her oblivious WASP stepmom-to-be and siblings, overhearing the casual racial insults her stepmom and a dress shop worker say, and returning home to a seemingly unconcerned father and stepfamily after she had run off—and not have resolved the problems so tidily, though. Only Bridget’s section feels underdeveloped. SISTERHOOD is better than most recent films at depicting regular teenage girls so it can be forgiven when it sometimes takes on an excessive “you go, girl” attitude.
(Review first aired in a shorter version on the June 7, 2005 NOW PLAYING)