The Teen Spirit

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
USA, 2005, 119 mins.

Director

Ken Kwapis

Cast

Amber Tamblyn
as Tibby

Alexis Bledel
as Lena

America Ferrera
as Carmen

Blake Lively
as Bridget

Bradley Whitford
as Al


Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Review by David Bjerre

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Rating
Rating 9 of 10
Designations & Trivia

Genre: Drama Queen

Category: Drama Queen

Keywords:
Best Friends Forever, Terminal illness, Summer camp

Did you know that...
Bradley Whitford, who plays America Ferrera's father, also played the father in "Little Manhattan", opposite Cynthia Nixon, who was once a guest star in "E.R.", which "Sisterhood" director Ken Kwapis has directed two episodes of.

REVIEW

Death, love, friendship, family, betrayal, sex, expectations, denial and pants. These are the subjects covered in this story about four girls who have been friends since before they were born, despite the fact that they're as different as day and night.

Lena (Alexis Bledel of "Gilmore Girls") is the quiet timid one, who has yet to come to terms with the fact that she's fast becoming a woman. Bridget (relative newcomer Blake Lively) a breathtakingly stunning blonde, who has turned to sports - football specifically - to fill her life after her mother killed herself. Tibby (Amber Tamblyn of "Joan of Arcadia") is the rebel who walks to her own beat and dreams of being a documentary filmmaker. And finally there's Carmen (America Ferrera "Real Women Have Curves"), a lively Latino girl, who wants to be a writer. "Together it was as if we formed one complete person," she says, while contemplating why four so different people can fit so well together.

The girls are now 16 years old and they've reached a crossroad in their lives. For the first time ever they're going to spend the summer apart. One day when they are out shopping they find a pair of old jeans in a second hand store. Tibby tries them on and they fit perfectly. Then Lena tries them and they fit her too. In fact the pants fit all four girls, from the leggy Bridget to the big-bottomed Carmen, which should be physically impossible. The girls naturally assume these must be magical pants and on the eve of their separation they make a pact: Throughout the summer they will share these magical pants. Each girl gets them for a week, and during that time the wearer must document her experiences in a letter to the next recipient.

Shortly after the girls are scattered to the wind.

Lena is going to spend her summer with her grandparents in Greece. Here she will meet a boy and fall in love, only to discover that their families are sworn enemies. Meanwhile Bridget is going to a football camp. She quickly has her sight set on one of the young coaches and she will spend the coming weeks trying desperately to get his attention, so she can loose her virginity.

Carmen is staying with her father this summer. He left her and her mother many years ago. Now he has a new family and he's about to get married again, a fact he has somehow neglected to mention. Carmen is in for quite a surprise as she struggles to come to terms with her father's new life. A life that doesn't really leave a lot of room for her.

Tibby is the only one staying home for the summer. She's going to work at the local supermarket while assembling her "sucky-mentary" - a documentary on just how sad life is. Tibby is perfectly prepared to sulk the entire summer away, but while making her film she will befriend a young neighbourhood girl, who's going to open her eyes and make her re-evaluate the world.

This summer will change all four girls forever. And it all started with a pair of old jeans...

"Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" is a unique film in many ways. It's sweet, innocent and loveable, and yet it manages to cover some heavy and diverse subjects. The film glides gracefully - and sometimes seamlessly - between the four different stories and divides its attention equally between the girls. As Carmen points out: Together the four girls are one person, and the same thing can be said about their stories which, when put together, form a lifetime of hurt and joy.

"Wear them. They'll make you brave."

The whole thing about the magical jeans may seem a little gimmicky at first, but give it a chance. The pants actually turn out to be a great connection between the stories. As the camera follows the pants from post office to post office - via ship, train or goat - they emphasize the connection between the girls and brings them closer together. It never seems forced, and the film never feels fragmented.

Now, obviously everything starts and stops with the four young actresses who play the lead roles. They are just perfectly cast and there's a unique sense of camaraderie between them. Alexis Bledel plays Lena with a sweet low-key demeanour far removed from her famous TV personality, but it really suits her well. As for Blake Lively, she is just so stunning and vibrant it's impossible to look away when she's on! If this film doesn't open all doors in the entire world for her, there is no justice. America Ferrera shines in yet another heartfelt effort. I hate the way she's degraded herself in the TV-series "Ugly Betty", by making fun of her weight and her looks. I think she's absolutely gorgeous and I would rather see her play a real character, like she does here, as opposed to a caricature.

However, my personal favorite among these gifted girls is Amber Tamblyn. She got her big breakthrough in the fantastic TV-series "Joan of Arcadia", and there's just something so real about her. She never seems like just another teen actress faking it to get an MTV award. She's got a sadness in her eyes. What's that phrase? "She's got an old soul".

It may be argued that the film is a little too pretty and too clean-cut. That's a fair point. If you're looking for hardcore social realism you've come to the wrong place. There's nothing evil or sinister at play here, nothing edgy, just ordinary people dealing with ordinary life. But so what? What does it matter if the film has a glossy look, when the scenes still feel so real and brutally honest?

"Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" is the perfect chick flick. It's funny and sad. It's a daydreamer, but it still has a very real feel to it. Everyone should see this film, even those who don't normally watch chick flicks. Like the titular pants: It may just fit you, even though you never thought it would.

David Bjerre, June 24th, 2007 - Send David a comment about this review.

GALLERY