The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Ken Kwapis
scr Delia Ephron, Elizabeth Chandler
with Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera, Blake Lively, Jenna Boyd, Bradley Whitford, Nancy Travis, Rachel Ticotin, Mike Vogel, Michael Rady, Leonardo Nam, Maria Konstandarou
release US 1.Jun.05, UK 26.Aug.05
05/US Warner 2h05

Meanwhile in Mexico: Vogel and Lively

Bledel, Tamblyn, Ferrera and Lively

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The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants If the title causes your stomach to rumble, stay away. Because it's exactly what you think: a girly drama about friendship, coming of age and coming to terms. Plus a magical pair of jeans. We're in trouble from the start, and the filmmakers never even try to avoid the inevitable sludge.

For four 17-year-old friends, this'll be their first summer apart. So when they find a pair of jeans that mysteriously fits them all, they decide to share them over the summer. Lena (Bledel) visits her grandparents on a Greek island, where she meets cute young fisherman Kostas (Rady). Carmen (Ferrera) stays with her dad (Whitford) and is surprised by his new fiancee (Travis) and stepkids. Bridget (Lively) goes to soccer camp in Mexico and falls for her coach (Vogel). And Tibby (Tamblyn) stays home, reluctantly befriending a secretive young girl (Boyd).

Yes, the jeans are a symbol of self-confidence, connectedness, whatever. The girls must make decisions on their own, grow up, face the realities of their families, realise the importance of friendship. This isn't a bad concept, but the film is far too slick and soulless-- over-staged, over-written, over-cute, overwrought. It's also deeply condescending, explaining everything in detail (cue another pants-in-the-post montage) just to make sure 10-year-old girls, who will make up the film's fanbase, can follow it. But even 10-year-olds aren't that stupid!

Fortunately, the actresses breathe life into their roles. Bledel and Lively have the cliched forbidden-love storylines, and struggle to find anything original. But Ferrera finds emotional resonance as a teenager terrified that she might be losing her father forever, especially when she finally confronts him about it. And Tamblyn has the film's most inventive journey, as well as the spikiest character, even if her plot thread turns the most maudlin.

But then the filmmakers just can't resist sentiment, and seem happy to wallow in corny humour, predictable sappiness and heavy-handed moralising. For viewers who enjoy this kind of thing, it's a well-made film that will connect on various levels. Bring a box of tissues. Everyone else should keep an air-sick bag handy.

cert PG some adult themes 17.May.05

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Emily, North Carolina: 4.5/5 "It was a great movie, not like the book but still good." (20.Nov.05)
2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall