The next chapter in the tale of the denim divas follows them to all corners of the earth, but separately. Each of the girls leaves for the summer to follow their own path, their own heart and where it takes them is not always right along side each other. One goes to drama camp to find out her place in the theater might not be behind the curtains at all, while another goes to art school only to find drawing passion and heart can’t be done when the artist has closed hers off. One more girl learns the past is only as far your last conversation with someone you care about, while lastly another finds looking into the future is more frightening when you imagine it alone. Each young woman travels their own road and this story is how they find themselves and each other once again along the way.
After reading all that it might feel like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 has stuffed way too much into those wildly decorated jeans, but the movie shows itself to be a great example of intelligent and accomplished editing. Each storyline is touched on, taken in and then moved on from with impeccable timing, never overstaying its welcome and never leaving the audience wondering what was going on with the rest of the girls. Everyone is granted a wealth of screen time and that passes on to the viewer a level of visual respect, so we can decide for ourselves which person we want to route for (if not all of them, which in my case, it wasn’t, but I’ll get to that later). Credit is assuredly given to the director, Sanaa Hamri, for her work, but I want to lend a special round of digital applause to the editor, Melissa Kent, for really keeping a well balanced performance intact for everyone involved.
About those performances, let’s take a closer look at the set up and how it differs from the first time these pants made their appearance on the silver screen. We have four young up-and-coming actresses in Alexis Bledel, Blake Lively, Amber Tamblyn and America Ferrera. When the first movie came out Alexis was riding high on the back of Gilmore Girls mania, while Amber had recently enjoyed critical acclaim in her starring turn on Joan of Arcadia (although not the public rating support that usually accompanies such high reviews). This time around, Alexis and Amber have taken a back seat to the Emmy and Golden Globe winning America Ferrera from the critic’s wonder darling, Ugly Betty and the hype/buzz machine powerhouse of Blake Lively and her adolescent hormone extravaganza, Gossip Girl. Behind the scenes the dynamic may have changed, but on screen you would never know how far things had shifted. There is a palpable level of camaraderie between these four young girls, but how far that lasts when the cameras are off is hard to tell. Personally, the two current headliners, Blake and America, stole the show with their respective performances, especially Blake, while Alexis held her own and Amber fell a little flat. Part of Amber’s problem is she has the character with the least reason to support her. For most of the movie she is grumpy, frumpy and bordering on goth. While each of the other girls are stretching and reaching out, Amber’s character is retreating inward, causing a slight disconnect with the rest of the pack. On the other side of the gender line, there are the men in the picture. No teen chick flick is complete without the heartthrob young men to make the girls swoon, but in most stories there are also the jerks and brutish young punks who hurt or disappoint the girls first, which sends them running to the male best friend who they never looked at in that way before, but they see, and so on and so on. In this story I felt a little break in that belief in the world it created because every guy in the film was perfect. They were all total gentlemen, caring, sensitive, bursting with charm, and to top it all off most of them looked they had just walked out of the gym after a 24-hour work out bender (all except for Blake’s dad, which can be excused in this case). The only reason this stood out as a problem for me was they had every guy throwing themselves at their feet, so their only real problem was with themselves, and that makes for very few hurdles to jump over which are not self-imposed.
In the end the movie is enjoyable and the people in the crowd I was a part of all had their share of cheering moments. It’s a chick flick in its purest form, but that doesn’t mean all the boyfriends and best friends out there have to moan and groan when they get dragged to it. The theater experience really doesn’t bring anything special to it, so you guys out there might even be safe until DVD release, but once that comes, you better find yourself a comfy pillow on the couch because you can be sure this will get heavy rotation.
p.s. My friend would be remiss if I didn’t mention her issue with the casting of the male model character in Alexis Bledel’s story arc. Not a bad actor at all, but she got the vibe he (or his character) wasn’t really into Alexis, or her character, or her gender… Oh SNAP! And I would be remiss not to mention that since this is a sequel with no sub-title it will forever be known to me as The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2: Electic Boogalo.