"Traveling Pants 2" is not a perfect fit

Aug. 11, 2008, midnight | By Julia Wynn | 12 years, 6 months ago

The final sisterhood movie fails to do the books justice

A disappointing end to the two-film series, "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" is a sweet but choppy adaptation of the last three books in Ann Brashares' renowned series. A movie most likely to be enjoyed solely by teenage girls, it doesn't attempt to be more than a light chick flick. But while the acting and predictable ending leave much to be desired, the movie does manage a few valuable lessons about love and friendship that will be able to stand the test of time.

While four best friends are apart for the summer, they share a pair of pants that magically fit all of them perfectly in an attempt to stay connected with each other. Theoretically, the jeans make special things happen in each of their lives. Rebellious Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) gets distracted from her studies at NYU when a rude surprise threatens to ruin her romance with Brian. Shy Lena (Alexis Bledel) decides to try her hand at life drawing and faces a tough decision when the seemingly married Kostos comes back into her life. Dedicated Carmen (America Ferrera) is in Vermont, finding that her theater talents extend beyond backstage. And vivacious Bridget (Blake Lively) splits her time between an archeological site in Turkey and her deceased mother's past. The once indestructible bond between the foursome seems to be wearing away, much like the aged traveling pants themselves.

In the first part of the movie, the four girls' stories seem to be cleverly interwoven by means of clever transitions that visually connect the different scenes together. For example, as Carmen exits through a backstage door, it becomes a basement door in Bridget's house. But as the movie continues, it appears director Sanaa Hamri got lazy as these helpful links disappear, creating what seems more like a random compilation of four girls' experiences. The frequently short scenes add to this perception and make the movie seem choppy and less meaningful.

The script is witty in parts and bland in others, but the main difficulty screenwriter Elizabeth Chandler undoubtedly faced was how to transform Brashares' three intricate and well-written novels into a mere two-hour movie. Chandler barely succeeds in creating a complete script as the viewer has to infer events that evidently took place. The relationship between Lena and art model Leo that inexplicably escalates from flirtatious to scandalous had supposedly ended by the last part of the movie. But literal viewers were given no explanation to suggest that this major event had occurred.

Tamblyn is pleasant relief from the overall lack of acting ability in the movie; she clearly internalized her character to a far greater extent than any of the other three main actresses. Her gestures and facial expressions are always believable and creative, while Bledel and Lively seem unable to differentiate their Traveling Pants characters from the ones they play on TV in "Gilmore Girls" and "Gossip Girl" respectively. Ferrera does an excellent job of portraying Carmen, but she is not as unique in her interpretation as Tamblyn.

The elements of Brashares' books ultimately included in the movie are both deftly appropriate and horribly unsuitable. Most of the intensely intimate parts of the books were properly eliminated to maintain a PG-13 rating. Carmen's story rightly incorporates her evolution from a submissive helper to a confident actress, while disregarding the less-interesting summer she spent with Lena's grandmother described in the third book. But Bridget spends the movie delving into her mother's depressed existence and salvaging her relationship with her grandmother – just one aspect of the movie given inadequate time to develop. This more contemplative mindset appears unrealistic for the naturally flirty, intensely single-minded Bridget. In fact, she is the only member of the sisterhood to be romantically uninvolved throughout the movie, a poor choice considering she is the most boy-obsessed among the four friends.

For those who plan to see "Traveling Pants 2" merely for love of the first movie or Brashares' books, it is entertaining enough not to plan otherwise. The movie is touching, but cannot reach the ranks of the outstanding novels.

"The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" (1hr. 57 min.) is rated PG-13 for mature material and sensuality. Now playing in theaters everywhere.

Julia Wynn. Hello, my name is Julia Wynn and I am looking forward to my senior year as a member of the Silver Chips Online staff. I love to dance (especially poms), listen to music and play piano. My two main food necessities are any kind of … More »

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