A sequel to the 2005 big screen adaptation of Ann Brashares’ novel about a quartet of young girls who discover a pair of jeans that mysteriously fits each of them perfectly, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 is a painted-within-the-lines drama that skates innocently by on its charisma, color and solid casting. Even more so than the original film, which was about the girls’ first, fretful summer apart, this movie plays out, though not unpleasantly, as a quartered anthology about the awkward bridge between adolescence and adulthood.
Interweaving the jeans as a symbolic chit, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 is basically four mini-movies taped together, with a fair bit of connective tissue. On soccer scholarship at Brown, Bridget (Blake Lively, of Accepted and Gossip Girl) goes on a summer archaeological dig to Turkey, then reconnects with her grandmother in Alabama. An NYU film school student who works part time in a video store, Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) suffers a pregnancy scare with her boyfriend. Carmen (America Ferrera) heads to Vermont with a Yale drama department friend, and finds herself cast, in unlikely fashion, as Perdita in a production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. Lena (Alexis Bledel), meanwhile, attends art school. Caught up with new friends and problems, and flames both old (Michael Rady, Leonardo Nam) and new (Jesse Williams, Tom Wisdom), the girls find their commitment to keeping in touch, and mailing the jeans off after one-week shifts, tested.
In trying to peddle the discrete stories of each character, the movie loses the major throughline that would tie this all together — that of trusted old friendships fraying, and slipping apart. Screenwriter Elizabeth Chandler, working solo after receiving shared credit on the first film, succeeds early on in capturing some of the “can’t-go-home-again” feeling of college-age kids — of trying to share new experiences with people who have moved on in their own way. A big part of the problem, though, lies in the compression of three novels (there are four books in all, chronicling successive summers) into a single tale. For the full review, from Screen International, click here. (Warner Bros., PG-13, 118 minutes)