Traveling Pants 2 fits like a dream
August 7, 2008
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, which you will agree has one of the more ungainly titles of recent years, is everything that Sex and the City wanted to be. It follows the lives of four women, their career adventures, their romantic disasters and triumphs, their joys and sadness. These women are all in their early 20s, which means they are learning lifes lessons; SATC is about forgetting them.The traveling pants, you will recall, are a pair of jeans that the four best friends tried on in a clothing store in the 2005 movie. Magically, they were a perfect fit for all four. So they agree that each can wear the jeans for a week of the coming summer, and then FedEx them to the next name in rotation. Following the jeans, in both movies, we follow key moments in the girls lives.Carmen is my favorite. Played by the glowing America Ferrera (Real Women Have Curves), she has followed her tall blond friend Julia (Rachel Nichols) to Vermont, where Julia will spend the summer at the Village Playhouse. Carmen sees herself as a stagehand, but is dragged into an audition by a talented British actor named Ian (Tom Wisdom) and amazingly gets the female lead in A Winters Tale. Not so amazingly, she falls in love with Ian, and the jealous Julia tries to sabotage her happiness. Meanwhile, her remarried mother produces a baby brother for her.Alexis Bledel plays Lena, spending the summer at the Rhode Island School of Design and still in love with the Greek guy she met in the previous picture. Amber Tamblyn is Tibby, possibly the most contentious video store clerk in history. Shes going through a shaky period in her romance with Brian (Leonardo Nam). Blake Lively is Bridget, who goes on an archeological dig in Turkey, adopts the supervising professor (Shohreh Aghdashloo) as a mother-figure, then flies home to seek out her grandmother (Blythe Danner) and learn for the first time the details of her own mothers death. Its worth noticing that all four heroines are involved in relationships that are cross-cultural and/or interracial.The movie intercuts quickly but not confusingly from one story to another, is dripping with seductive locations, is not shy about romantic cliches, and has a lot of heart. These women are all sincere, intelligent, vulnerable, sweet, warm. Thats in contrast to SATC with its narcissistic and shallow heroines. The SATC ladies should fill their flasks with Cosmopolitans, go to see The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, and cry their hearts out with futile regret for their misspent lives.Because the four leads spend the summer in different places, the movie has an excuse to drop in interesting supporting characters. Blythe Danner is splendid as the Alabama grandmother who knows the whole story of Bridgets mom. Leonardo Nam is a kind and perceptive boyfriend for Lena, Shohreh Aghdashloo (The House of Sand and Fog) is a role model for Bridget, Kyle MacLachlan has fun as the wine-sipping director of the summer playhouse, Tom Wisdom does a lot with the small role of the playhouse star. And Rachel Nichols as Julia proves a principle that should be in the Little Movie Glossary: If a short, curvy, sun-kissed heroine has a tall, thin blonde as a roommate, that blonde is destined to be a bitch. No way around it.As for the pants themselves, theyve gathered a lot of patches and embroideries over the three years since the last installment, and still fit. But not so much is made about them in this film, and by the end theyve disappeared, sparing us The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 3 and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 4. The movies are inspired by the novels of Ann Brashares, but this one, I learn, combines plot details from novels 2, 3 and 4, and so the sisters can go their separate ways, no doubt keeping in touch by e-mail and congratulating themselves on being infinitely better than the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 Warner Bros. presents a film directed by Sanaa Hamri. Produced by Debra Martin Chase, Kira Davis, Denise Di Novi, Broderick Johnson and Andrew A. Kosove. Written by Elizabeth Chandler, based on the novels by Ann Brashares. Photographed by Jim Denault. Edited by Melissa Kent. Music by Rachel Portman. Running time: 117 minutes. Classified: PG-13 (for mature material and sensuality). Rated: Three stars.
Teresa WiltzThe Washington PostFor all its flaws and flagrant flouting of credulity, theres a certain charm to The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, the sequel to the 2005 hit about four disparate friends who rely on one another and one pair of artfully faded, studded and bejeweled jeans to navigate the complexities of young adulthood. This time, those complexities include juggling books with after-school gigs at anachronistic video stores, first breakups and pregnancy scaresWe could quibble, of course: No one really buys the idea that a pair of magical pants can fit four very different-sized bottoms and instantly bestow the wearer a fabulous life-and-learning experience. (And indeed, the filmmakers dont seem to be buying it either, dropping the whole idea midway through the movie like a pair of last years J Brands.)Then theres the narrative arc that feels cribbed from Scriptwriting for Dummies. (Of course Carmens jealous roommate is going to sabotage her!) And how, in the Traveling Pants universe, it only takes about 10 minutes to drive from Manhattan to Vermont in rush-hour traffic and frequent-flier miles funding round-trip tickets to Greece fall like manna from the sky.But still. This is pure, escapist fun skepticism and naysaying are best left at home.