Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

2006-07-13 10:21


Four teenage girls who have been close friends for their entire lives are about to spend their sixteenth summer on earth apart from each other. Shy and sensitive Lena (Alex Bledel) is jetting off to Greece to visit her grandparents, while vivacious soccer star Bridget (Blake Lively) will be honing her skills at a seaside training camp in Mexico. Fiery and independent Carmen (America Ferrera), on the other hand, is spending the whole summer with a man she has hardly seen for more than a few weeks in her entire life - her father. Only Lena (Amber Tamblyn), the sardonic young filmmaker, is staying at home to work on her self-deprecating "suckumentary". On their last day together the girls find a pair of jeans that miraculously fits each of their bodies perfectly. Taking it as a sign, the girls decide to share the pants for the summer, each wearing them for a week before sending them on to the next girl with a letter.


It's tough being a teenager. Sure you're obnoxious and hormonal, but nobody bothers to take the time to understand you, right? While most teenagers imagine this be the main problem with their beleaguered parents ("You try living with them!" cry Mom and Dad), they'd do far better directing their scorn at Hollywood. Most films aimed at the teen market either condescend to them, or glamorize their world into an empty fantasy that has no bearing on their lives. It's quite rare to find a teen drama that addresses real teen issues without descending into the realms of made-for-TV specials. Happily Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants never condescends and its touches of glamour are tempered by equal parts of harsh reality.

A good deal of the power of this excellent film comes directly from the source material - the best selling novel of the same name by Ann Brashares. The book stayed on best seller lists for more than a year after its publication in 2001, and has become an instant classic, with the kind of grass roots fan base that few books enjoy. Still, many great books reach the silver screen with a resounding flop, and the screenwriters deserve praise for their canny and, by all accounts, respectful adaptation.

Another great asset is the superb cast. The filmmakers couldn't have hoped for four more mature and accomplished young actresses to play the lead roles. The ethereal Alexis Bledel (known to many as Rory from TV's The Gilmore Girls) is particularly good. She has an easy grace and a delicate vulnerability that makes her a pleasure to watch. America Ferrera, who made a name for herself in Real Women Have Curves, puts in another strong performance, though she does have a taste for melodrama that can be off-putting. The aptly named Blake Lively is a magnetically charismatic screen presence, but her blonde good looks tend to distract from her obvious abilities as an actress and could end up typecasting her if she's not careful. Though Amber Tamblyn (from TV's Joan of Arcadia) is the weakest of the quartet, she still gives a convincing performance as the terminally grumpy Lena.

Though well acted and well written, the film's most powerful feature is its subject matter. What sounds like an airy fairy sentimental tale about a bunch of girls sharing a pair of jeans is really a remarkably mature and incisive exploration of themes like sex, race, divorce and death. The film is certainly melodramatic at times, and puts plenty of sugar coating on some of the situations (not every young woman who visits Greece meets a gorgeous hunk), but on the whole it's an honest exploration of some of the problems facing young women.

So should you allow your youngsters to see it unsupervised? As long as they're over 11 or 12 years old, absolutely. Any younger than this and the film will largely go over their heads, and they may come home with some rather uncomfortable questions. Will you be able to sit through it yourself? Definitely. You may not be 15 anymore, but the film's charm, grace and disarming honesty might make you feel that 15 isn't as far away as it sometimes seems.

- Alistair Fairweather

Most films made for teenage girls are either condescending or escapist - or even both - so it's nice surprise to find one that deals with the kinds of issues girls might face in real life, even if it does sugar coat some of them.

Jade Aylward 2005/09/23 4:07 PM
Sisterhood is good. Sad, but with two sexy guys in it! The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. One great movie!
Keets 2005/10/10 9:05 AM
The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants I went into the cinema expecting to be bombarded by over-acting teenagers trying to make this movie seem deep. Huh, i guess i took that all back cos this movie rocked, and how many hot guys can they put on screen? Ine would have made my day but three...heaven. I Am Sam
*** 2005/10/11 10:28 AM
The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants I went in expecting an over the top teeny bopper movie. But found it to be quite a heart warming story and really enjoyed it. Rally liked the part of Carmen as well.
Althea Osborne 2005/10/12 9:51 AM
Miss. A.O. Sister Hood Of The Traveling Pants
Daniela 2005/10/21 10:52 PM
Sisterhood of the travelling pants Wow! this girls can realy act and is not just that is the beautiful landscapes too. Cute storyline but not too cute to make it a chick flick, it has a deep touch. I'd recomend whale rider
London 2007/11/01 12:26 AM
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants I think the sisterhood movie is a very good one. It definetly helps teenagers get through things.
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