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Movie Review: Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants 2

Aug 11, 2008
Now, I am probably about 15 years older than the girls in this movie, and I am a man. Fortunately, I had no trouble empathizing with the four young women who are bound to friendship through their magical bifurcated nether garment(fancy word for pants) -- more so than I did with the Sex and the City gang, who are much closer to my age, but still, 180 Degrees different from my gender.

Like Sex and the City, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 works better if you know the characters already through their previous appearances, because you're already emotionally invested in them. I hadn't read the young-adult novels by Ann Brashares, but my sister, who is a big fan, filled me in and we determined that this movie is based mostly on the fourth book in the series, with a few changes, so even if you've read the books you get some surprises. Don't think that you are at a loss if you have not read any of the novels, as you are still able to get a good understanding of each character, and the story lines are easy to follow.

The chief problem is the four-part storyline, which, like the first film, finds the main characters separated for the summer and keeping in touch by sending back and forth the "magical pants" remember bifurcated nether garments? that fits all four of them. Be prepared to follow this movie along the four different storylines. This time it's the summer after freshman year of college for the girls, and while Carmen (America Ferrera) plans to spend the break at home with her pals, the others have bigger plans. Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) sticks around NYU to work at a video store and work on her screenplay, Bridget (Blake Lively) treks off to an archaeological dig in Turkey, and Lena (Alexis Bledel) takes a figure drawing class in Rhode Island.

A pair of secondhand jeans inset with rhinestones plays a major role in "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2." Anyone who saw the first movie or read the novels that inspired the films will be familiar with these well-worn bottoms. They serve as a bond among four girlfriends. Each can magically squeeze into them, although the pals are different sizes and shapes.

Their lives, already starting to pull apart in the first "Pants," rip apart further in this thoroughly engaging sequel, which has some gems of wisdom to impart but does so gently. With one year of college now over, the girls are on the cusp of becoming full blown grown ups. Holding on to the past is difficult when the future keeps intruding. To remind themselves of what they had together as best friends, they mail the gritty jeans to one another at various summer ports of call.

During their summers, the four women deal with issues of trust, love, guilt, and value. Partially due to their separate adventures, and partially due to their increased independence and individuality, the girls primarily go through their journeys of discovery on their own, and develop their own independence. At times, the increased separation between them is obviously apparent. At others, it becomes an opening for a strong cast of supporting characters/mentors to shine. But at the end of the day, the girls prove that while there are certain things they must discover on their own, they will always be there for each other and to provide that kind of guidance and support that a tight bond can only do.

Most impressing was that these women seemed to come away from their challenges stronger, wiser, and, for the most part, in places better than where they were before. At the end, you get the sense that they actually are in healthy relationships, that they have learned from their mistakes, and that love and friendship have in fact triumphed over selfishness and isolation.

And while there's an element of fantasy to much of the movie, serious issues, including teen pregnancy and mental illness, lurk beneath the cinematic sheen.

Like its predecessor, "Sisterhood 2" is based on two radical ideas: namely, that young women's stories are about more than the pursuit of men, and that happiness isn't something that you are given, or is something that is external. It is inside you, and you need to find it for yourself.

This is a great teen movie, or even a great mother daughter movie to wind up the Summer with. With a strong cast and engaging story line, "Sisterhood 2" is a wonderful second spin around the block.
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