Have Pants: Will Travel

by Aaron on June 3, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
  • IMDB: link

sisterhood-of-the-traveling-pants-poster

Sadly, Hollywood vaules Brand Name Jeans more than it’s teen stars

Whatever happened to truly great teen movies? Say Anything, Rebel Without a Cause, Wild Things…where are today’s John Hughes and Cameron Crowe? I blame American Pie, personally. Sure, it hearkened back to the blissful days of Porky’s (with maybe 1/8 th the nudity), but now teen movies are either firmly girl films or guy films, with no real crossover between them. Coming down firmly in the X chromosome camp is Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, which is based on the best-selling teen fiction novel of the same name.

Rather that settle for one cookie-cutter plot, Sisterhood decides to up the ante with count ‘em FOUR cliche-ridden plot lines to tell the story of four very unlikely high-school pals who split up for the summer to laugh, cry, love, and learn, all with the help of a magic pair of blue jeans. What’s so magic about them? They fit all four girls perfectly regardless of their wildly different sizes and body-types. In your face, Harry Potter! Troubled blond princess Bridget (Blake Lively) takes the pants with her to Baja where uses her wiles to seduce an older soccer coach, while mousy Lena (Alexis Bledel) spends her summer in Greece and uses the pants to come out of her shell, find a hunky fish-monger boy, and heal an old family feud. Riot Grrrl Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) stays at home to slave away at a Wal-Martish retailer and to work on her documentary, but the pants lead her to finding a little girl who will touch her life with a plot twist only slightly less obvious than a sunset. Finally, Carmen (America Ferrera) uses the pants to find the strength to confront her father over her feelings of abandonment, and to stand up for herself in his new white-bread life.

Taken separately, only Carmen’s story would have the depth to carry a full-length film, and Ferrera’s handling of a Latino girl trying to fit in to white suburbia makes you wish they had given her solo treatment, not to mention more screen time (as her’s is the most ignored storyline). There are a couple of powerful moments where her discomfort and alienation that are just heartbreakingly real. Though the undertones of how her father’s new family relates to their Hispanic housekeeper are barely even implied, there are enough moments that make you wish they’d just drop the rest of the story.

Thankfully each actress makes enough of their pretty thinly sketched roles to make this film more enjoyable for parents and older siblings, who’ve probably seen countless variations of each story before. Gosh, will wallflower Lena find confidence and strength in the affection of a collegiate fisherman? Will a little girl show cynical Tibby the true meaning of Christmas, I mean life? Will brassy Bridget realize that chasing after boys is just another way of running away from her emotions and pain? What do you think?

 

While on the surface this film is aimed squarely at young teen girls, most likely it’s most appreciative audience will be found in the tweens and pre-teens who haven’t had the full emotional horror of teendom thrown in their face yet, and this film presents a pretty rosy view that won’t upset any apple carts or moral boundaries. Not quite a ‘drop ‘em off at the theater’ movie, and nothing groundbreaking, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants should give girls a welcome and pleasant break from the wall-to-wall teen boy fantasy fare that will be ruling the cinemas this summer, and should provide chaperones some good-natured fluff to boot.

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