Friday, August 8, 2008

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2: A fine fit

Rating: ***

Posted By on Fri, Aug 8, 2008 at 1:42 PM

Sequel almost matches its predecessor

By Matt Brunson





STARS America Ferrera, Alexis Bledel

The 2005 screen version of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was based on the first novel in Ann Brashares' best-selling series, but the word is that The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 combines the events from the remaining three books in the franchise. One reason is probably because the studio felt that audience interest wouldn't extend past a second installment (after all, this isn't Spider-Man or Shrek or, uh, Hostel). Another might be that the four stars of the first film have kept busy with other projects and may not particularly wish to keep returning to the same well. And the third reason is that who wants to eventually see 30something actresses still playing college-age kids? (It brings to mind the third and final film in the Porky's series, wherein high school boys were suddenly having to contend with receding hairlines.)

Yet at least by ending it at number two, the filmmakers have insured that this series won't be subject to the laws of most franchises and grow shoddier as it creaks along. A solid follow-up to the solid original, Sisterhood 2 might feel a bit more scattershot than its predecessor, but its engaging characters, entertaining situations and emotional reach should help it find approval with those who grooved to the rhythms of the first picture.

Set three years later, it finds the best-laid summer plans of the four friends -- brainy Carmen (America Ferrera), introspective Bridget (Blake Lively), rebellious Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) and shy Lena (Alexis Bledel) -- blown to smithereens as each ends up doing her own thing rather than hanging out as a group. Thus, Carmen heads to Vermont to work in theater (check out a funny Kyle MacLachlan as the pompous director), Bridget travels to Turkey for an archaeological dig before heading to her grandmother's house in the South to solve some family mysteries, Tibby remains in New York to work on her film and worry about possibly being pregnant, and Lena, heartbroken after being dumped by her Greek lover, finds new romance at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Problems are worked out in an orderly manner, tears are shed in sincere fashion, and everyone is eventually reunited in sunny Greece, with nary a single ABBA-mangling peasant in sight.

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