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This Week in Film: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

Written by: Mike Caccioppoli, Feature Film Critic

It won't make you cringe, but this Sex and the City for the college set nevertheless lacks focus

ImageThe Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 is kind of a Sex in the City for the college set. One of the best things I can say about it is that it didn’t make me cringe. I didn’t see the first Sisterhood film so I really didn’t know what to expect. Is it a chick flick? Very much so, but it does have its moments that even guys will be able to identify with. OK – maybe just really sensitive guys. Ironically the least effective part of the film has to do with the whole traveling pants thing which I’ll get to later.

Based on Ann Brashares’ series of novels, Sisterhood 2 follows four young women who three years removed from the last installment, are now in their first year of college and are heading into the summer break. They are close friends yet as they head into adulthood their lives begin to go in separate directions. Carmen (America Ferrera) whose mother is about to give birth, heads to Vermont to work backstage at a theatre festival, however after an impromptu audition, she lands the lead in the play. Bridget (Amber Tamblyn) is writing a screenplay while attending NYU and she’s also having relationship issues after a pregnancy scare. Bridget (Blake Lively) who continues to struggle with the loss of her mother heads to Turkey for an archeological dig. Lena (Alexis Bledel) whose previous boyfriend Kostos (Michael Rady) got married to someone else, is studying at the Rhode Island School of Design where she meets a hunky art student who is also a part time nude model for her art class.

While these gals have been close friends for a long time, we are told that the reason why they became so close to begin with is that they share a pair of jeans that somehow fits all of them perfectly. They have therefore assumed that they are destined to part of each others lives forever. As we watch their respective summer dramas unfold and become mildly involved, the one thing that keeps bothering us is that the film is never able to connect their stories. While each of these girls struggle with similar (new male interests) yet also different issues, the whole “sisterhood” idea never comes into focus. We understand that life is making their paths diverge more than they would like but except for the pants, why exactly are these women friends? The film doesn’t do much with those pants either, one of them wears it for a while then ships it to the next, and so on and so forth, but there’s never a clear connection made.  Are the pants magical? If so we never witness any of it. I don’t think the filmmakers ever really put much stock into the idea in the first place and if they dropped it all together it wouldn’t have made much of a difference.

None of the girls’ stories carries enough weight for the film to focus on and as it cuts back and forth, any emotional involvement we might have gets lost. Each segment feels truncated, as though there’s more to say but the film really doesn’t have time to carry any one story through because it has to cover each girl in such a short period of time. This episodic quality can work in a television series (such as Sex in the City) where you can carry it over to the next episode but as a film it has a start-stop effect that’s annoying and unfulfiling. I guess it’s a good thing that we might want to know more about each of their stories and how they might have played out in a better film, but Sisterhood 2 seems to have been made for the attention deficit disorder teenage/college crowd of the 21st century. Maybe a Lifetime series would be a better fit than a movie screen.                                             

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