Warner Bros. // 2005 // 119 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // October 11th, 2005
"These aren't just jeans. They make things happen."
A pair of pants fits four different young women, and they see it as a sign. They decide to use the pants as a way to stay in touch as they are about to go their separate ways for the summer. Featuring some of the more recognizable young actresses going today, is Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants worth the ride, or does it fall flat on its seat?
Based on the novel by Ann Brashares, a rather quiet girl named Lena (Alexis Bledel, Gilmore Girls), a gloomy cynic named Tibby (Amber Tamblyn, Joan of Arcadia), a barbie doll named Bridget (Blake Lively) and Latina Carmen (America Ferrera, Lords of Dogtown) find a pair of jeans that fits each of their differing body types. The girls' mothers' met before the girls were born, and they have stayed friends, and this magical piece of clothing is something they decide to keep as the common thread among each other. Even while Lena goes to Greece to visit her grandmother, and Bridget goes to Mexico to attend soccer camp (she's quite the star), and Carmen visits her father in South Carolina. Tibby stays home and works at a store that is not supposed to resemble Wal-Mart, seriously. She also finds time to record a documentary about the people within her town. And what the girls realize is not only do the pants bring new people into their lives, it's the outlook that those people bring into the girls' lives that make them value the pants as much as they do.
Directed by veteran TV director Ken Kwapis (The Bernie Mac Show), someone who would seem to have as much in tune with the pubescent female sect as I do, the film carries itself surprisingly well. The film has its chuckles, and even has some tears in it. It's glossy without being too sugary sweet, and appeals to a wide variety on both sides of the gender fence. It may wrap things up in a neat, tidy package, but it's harmless fun.
In not having too much idea of how to approach viewing a film better suited for the Judy Blume crowd, the expectations I had for Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants were a little low. And despite some opinions from the target demographic (Jessica, my twelve-year old sister-in-law, said it's "nothing like the book"), the film was very enjoyable from start to end. The performances that Bledel and Ferrera turn in are good, and Tamblyn's is excellent. She's the one that gets the life-changing event, and seeing how her friend Bailey (Jenna Boyd, The Missing) touches her life is something to see, especially in how she interacts with her friends afterwards. Plus the supporting adult cast is pretty capable in the few scenes they have. As Carmen's Dad Al, Bradley Whitford is soft spoken and is more than willing to let the girls have the spotlight from an acting standpoint. It's a departure from his aggressive performance as Josh on The West Wing. His role as the somewhat dismissive father, about to marry another woman (Nancy Travis, Internal Affairs) in South Carolina is OK, but the disappointing thing is that Travis seems a little bit wasted in her role. Carmen's mother (Rachel Ticotin, Total Recall) does her usual good job, and as Bailey, Boyd does a great job for someone so young. Everyone does so well in a project of modest expectations, that kind of spirit comes through when you watch the film.
Warner puts some supplemental material on the disc which should satisfy fans of the film. There's a brief look at the camaraderie the girls shared on set, and a conversation with Brashares on her inspiration for the book and the reasons for its success. She also shares some details about what goes on in the two subsequent books, and says that a fourth book is in the works for fans of her work. There are eight minutes of deleted scenes with optional commentary by Kwapis, who provides very good explanations of why the scenes were excised. The documentary that Tibby is trying to shoot is included in "rough cut" form, but some of it will be familiar to those who watched the film. The lengthiest extra is a video commentary with the four girls, and you get to watch them joke and fool around while watching some scenes from the film, with the exception of Lively, who couldn't attend, except by phone. Granted, any feature-length commentary probably would have strayed off-topic in no time, but it would have been a nice inclusion.
Some more of the supplemental content could have been focused on the cast or on the book itself, but considering the target market of the film and video, Warner is looking OK in this area. For the film, there's a reconciliation that involves someone which seemed like a mild jump to accept, but it's a forgivable sin.
Quite a pleasant film, and one that should live on video for awhile, as the themes of friendship, love and life are great growing of age concepts that everyone can relate to. And what makes it work is that it transcends teen films to some degree, and it's good for all ages.
The court finds in favor of the cast and crew of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and hopes that the second and third summers of the sisterhood are brought to celluloid as well.
Review content copyright © 2005 Ryan Keefer; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 2.40:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Running Time: 119 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Deleted Scenes with Director Commentary
* Selected Scene Commentary with Cast
* Video Conversation with Author
* Behind the Scenes with Cast
* Rough Cut of Documentary Filmed by Cast
* Official Site
* Book's Official Site