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The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants   B-

Warner Bros. Pictures / Alcon Entertainment

Year Released: 2005
MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Ken Kwapis
Writers: Delia Ephron, Elizabeth Chandler (based on the novel by Ann Brashares)
Cast: Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera, Blake Lively, Alexis Bledel, Bradley Whitford, Nancy Travis, Rachel Ticotin, Jenna Boyd.

Review by Sean O'Connell

The boys of summer had their chance, thanks to Star Wars and The Longest Yard. Now it's time for the girls to shine.

Warner sells its literary odyssey for the preteen sect as a probing drama, though it sounds more like fantasy. How else would you describe a summer saga where four curvy women of disproportionate sizes manage to fit snuggly into the same pair of jeans?

The ladies of the sisterhood comprise four parts of the same whole: Bridget (newcomer Blake Lively), the take-charge flirt; Carmen (America Ferrera), the budding writer eager to speak her mind; Lena (Alexis Bledel), the introspective beauty; and Tibby (Amber Tamblyn), the sarcastic artist quick to dye her hair and shoot a documentary film about how terrible life can be for suburban teens.

On the eve of their separation for the summer, the girls make a pact to share a magical pair of purchased pants. Each girl gets the jeans for one week, then passes the pants to the next lucky lady -- along with a story of something important that happened while wearing the fated jeans.

Guys have tuned out at this point, but girls will politely play along as the characters embark on personal adventures. Bledel lucks out because Lena spends the summer on the sun-kissed shores of Greece where she courts buff Kostas (Michael Rady) and connects with long-lost relatives. The other girls come to terms with deeper issues in less exotic locales. Carmen copes with her father's new fiancée. Bridget hides the grief that follows her mother's untimely death by throwing herself at her soccer coach. And Tibby befriends a precocious kid (Jenna Boyd) with a dark, some might say terminal, secret.

Do you get the feeling you're eavesdropping on the post-midnight ramblings from your daughter's slumber party? That just means director Ken Kwapis and his screenwriters (Delia Ephron and Elizabeth Chandler) effectively chiseled to the Hello-Kitty center of author Ann Brashares' best-selling novel. As Sisterhood embarks down traditional rites of passage, it can be overly sappy but sweet enough to please. All four actresses are believable, particularly when Sisterhood sells tough resolutions to the issues raised.

Parents should be warned that Sisterhood isn't all first kisses by moonlight and gentle hugs from caring friends. One character's mom commits suicide (offscreen). Another character passes away after a lengthy hospital stay. The physical beauty of the leading ladies isn't overemphasized, but it isn't ignored. Kwapis lingers a bit too long on shapely Lively, for instance. And while we're on the subject, can anyone explain how a physical relationship between the much-older soccer coach and 16-year-old Bridget is acceptable in any movie, let alone a teen-oriented fantasy such as this?

Review published 06.01.2005.

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