THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS

PG

-By David Noh


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A pair of vintage jeans somehow perfectly fits the differing physiques of four friends, thereby forging an even deeper bond between them. They are going off on separate summer vacations, but promise to keep in touch and express-mail the jeans to one another during the course of the season. Lena (Alexis Bledel) goes to Greece to see her grandparents and finds forbidden love in the form of a local hunk, Kostas (Michael Rady). Bridget (Blake Lively) goes to soccer camp in Mexico and becomes infatuated by her equally blond coach, Eric (Mike Vogel). Carmen (America Ferrera) visits her estranged father in South Carolina, and must deal with his new family and feeling the outsider. Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) has to stay at home, but she befriends a little girl, Bailey (Jenna Boyd), with a sad secret, who nevertheless helps her make a movie.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is potentially soupy, sentimental stuff, but, for the most part, director Ken Kwapis and screenwriters Delia Ephron and Elizabeth Chandler (who adapted Ann Brashares' novel) keep things tart, dry-eyed and briskly moving. John Bailey's lovely cinematography is alive to the beauties of the different settings, be it a leafy Southern suburb, a Baja beach, or the unearthly white and azure paradise of Santorini.
The girls are, thankfully, not bimbos, all attractive in their individual ways, and convincing as best friends. Ferrera is the most appealing cast member, with the strongest storyline. Obviously the most weight-challenged of the girls, she carries herself with the same handsome dignity she evinced in Real Women Have Curves, her eyes ever sparkling with irrepressible life. Boyd is very good, too. In a role that could have been a minefield of weepiness, she has an appealing feistiness and slightly uncanny child-woman quality that evokes a miniature Kyra Sedgwick. Tamblyn, as the group rebel, has a nice wryness and a fleeting resemblance to her dancing dad, Russ Tamblyn. Pretty Bledel shows some daffy comedic skill, and statuesque Lively, in her film debut, does well in the most sketchily conceived part. The requisite pubescent beefcake is provided by Rady and Vogel, who provide enough non-threatening, manly pulchritude to make them instant favorites with young female and gay viewers.
-David Noh


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