Yeah, we're doing a Critical Mass on a Wednesday. Didn't you hear? Wednesday is the new Friday for movie releases, and what better way to kick off a new H'wood trend than with a movie starring the members of the New Hollywood. Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants 2 opens today and picks up a year where the first Sisterhood film left off: The four main girls, all played by actresses recognizable to anyone under the age of 35 with a television (America Ferrera of Ugly Betty, Blake Lively from Gossip Girl, Amber Tamblyn from Joan of Arcadia, and Alexis Bledel of Gilmore Girls) are all in college now and their friendships are starting to deteriorate as they persue other interests. The movie is feel-goody and over-dramatic, like most chick flicks, but it also has intelligence and heart, something that another certain recent fabulous foursome film lacked. The collected reviews after the jump.
Resist if you dare, and for as long as you must, but even the hoariest haters eventually succumbed to the girly, cottony charms of 2005's Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, if in the privacy of their Netflix queues. I foresee a similar fate for its blandly engaging sequel: moms, daughters, and faux-ironic twentysomethings filling the theaters, the rest of us filling our jammies and DVD players in six months.
Stuff happens, feelings are hurt, boys dramatically enter and leave their lives and major problems wrap up a bit too neatly, especially at the picturesque ending. That "Traveling Pants 2" offers material that's tailored to an underserved audience _ girls and women who like films that allow them to think and feel _ is, of course, a solid start. You just wish it were a more comfortable fit.
Much has transpired in the lives of best friends forever Tibby, Carmen, Bridget and Lena and their shared globe-trotting jeans in the three years since the first "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants."
But it's nothing compared to castmate America Ferrera's career in the interim, as the Emmy-winning breakout star of ABC's "Ugly Betty."
She remains very much the team player in "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2," a shapely sequel that retains much of the sparkle and warmth that made the original such a pleasant surprise.
With the quartet of girls now in their first year of college, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (* * 1/2 out of four) is more of a coming-of-age story than its 2005 predecessor, tackling more mature subjects. However, for all its moments of believable dialogue and persuasive emotional truths, it also has some fairy-tale scenarios. But that's almost a textbook definition of a chick flick, so it doesn't interfere much with the film's appeal. And the performances of the four young women, particularly plucky America Ferrera and sardonic Amber Tamblyn, are likable and often charming.
But three years ago, in "Sisterhood 1," half the cast were way more famous than the other. Back then, TV stars Alexis Bledel ("Gilmore Girls") and Amber Tamblyn ("Joan of Arcadia") were the well-known pair of actresses, although you'd never know it from the movie, which smoothly offered all four performers equal time to be cute, freak out about something, and literally wear the pants.
Perhaps it's no shocker, given the way Hollywood likes to turn 'em over, but now it's the other two members of the sisterhood — Blake Lively of "Gossip Girl" and America Ferrera of "Ugly Betty" — who are a lot bigger deals outside the multiplex.
Once again, much to the sequel's credit, the story doesn't seem to care. The movie keeps moving quickly (but not sloppily) among the heroines, so that if you're overloaded, say, on one sister's sugary plotline, it only comes around every fourth scene or so, and never sticks around too long. Even at 111 minutes, "Pants" mostly sprints.
With very little sex and very little city, "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" still seems a good bet to grab a sizable chunk of the underserved chick-flick demographic, boosted by its young stars' blossoming profiles (particularly "Gossip Girl's" Blake Lively) and a blithely shallow approach to story. A likable quartet of players, a surfeit of male bimbos and an appetite for quick-cooked emotion should make the Aug. 6 Warner Bros. release a bigger hit than its 2005 predecessor, which grossed $39 million domestically.
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. The women are all sincere, intelligent, vulnerable, sweet, warm. That's 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.
In the current popular culture, female friendships — at any age — are generally considered secondary to life's "important" relationships, the romantic bonds between men and women.
Nowhere is this depressing trend more evident than in Hollywood, where story lines putatively about women's friendships tend toward the saccharine ("Mona Lisa Smile"), the malicious ("Mean Girls") or the boy-crazy (take your pick).
Which is why it's such a pleasure (and a relief) to encounter movies such as " The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2." Like the first "Pants" movie, it presents its heroines' relationships as complicated, challenging and particularly rewarding, and not simply as a vehicle for finding the perfect boyfriend.
It's easy to dismiss The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 as just another typical teen film with jocky dudes and back-stabbing girls that tend to flood the teen market. There was the toothless film adaptation of The Baby-Sitters Club in 1995, starring Rachael Leigh Cook, who later graduated to become the ugly-duckling social outcast rescued by Freddie Prinze Jr. in She's All That in 1995. Similarly, we saw Clueless, starring Alicia Silverstone as the designer-clothes crazed Cher in 1995 and the Lindsay Lohan vehicle Mean Girls in 2004. While those films were either underestimating their audience or merely featuring makeovers and female rivalry, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 bridges the gap between them. The idealism of the books about childhood friendship smoothly tackles the mature relationship topics that are common in these other comedies with none of the angst or crassness. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, directed by Sarah Lawrence grad Sanaa Hamri, depicts refreshingly positive female friendship based in reality without cynicism.
'Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2' opens today, nationwide.