Its Fathers Day and my four girls are scattered across the country; two are in Florida, one is in Maryland, and the last one is in Chicago. Now here it is Sunday afternoon, its raining, and although I have many, many things I could be doing I choose to watch HBO. And how fitting that I come across a movie where four teenaged girls scatter to different parts of the world, all living their own adventures connected by livelong friendship, and a pair of magical blue jeans. A movie called The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
The movie is based on Ann Brashares' best-selling novel of the same name, is about a special summer in the lives of four 16 year old girls, who are lifelong friends and are going to be separated for the first time in their friendship. The friends, Tibby by portrayed Amber Tamblyn (Joan of Arcadia, The Ring), Lena portrayed by Alexis Blendel (The Orphan King, Sin City, Gilmore Girls), Carmen the narrator of our little tale, portrayed by the ever adorable America Ferrera (Real Women Have Curves), and Bridget portrayed by new comer Blake Lively, come across a pair of blue jeans in a local thrift shop in Washington D.C. where they all live. The unassuming (magical) jeans fit each of the girls perfectly despite the fact that they are all (very) different sizes and shapes.
The girls take this as a sign, buy the jeans, and form a pact that they will each wear the jeans for a week to see what luck might befall the wearer, and then send them on to the next person; Tibby (very strange name), who stays at home and takes a job at a local big box store gets them first.
While wearing them she meets Bailey, portrayed by Jenna Boyd (The Hunted, The Missing), an inquisitive, intelligent 12-year-old dying from leukemia. After her week is up Tibby sends the pants on to Lena who is in Greece visiting her grandmother and grandfather. While there she meets Kostas after falling in the water while wearing the jeans and snags a leg on a metal rod and needs rescuing. What Lena doesnt know is that Kostas is from a Greek family her Greek family is feuding with, over fish of all things. She in turn sends the pants on to Bridget who is attending soccer camp in Baja California. Bridget is estranged from her father after her mothers death and is looking for love in the guise of one of the camp coaches Eric.
The last on the list to get her week is Carmen who travels to South Carolina to spend the summer with her single father, Al, portrayed by Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) only to discover that he is about to marry a genuine blonde Southern belle, Lydia portrayed by Nancy Travis (Air America, Internal Affairs, Running Mates), who as it turns out has two teenaged (blonde) children of her own. After her week is done she mails the pants back to Tibby and the process starts all over again.
These four story lines manage to cover an astounding amount of territory (touching on such diverse issues as race, death, self-image, divorce, mortality, sex, love, and much more). And the movie does so without being demeaning, derogatory, or resorting to stereotypes or quick feel-good resolutions. The four principles actresseswell almost allturn in stirring performances and special recognition has to go to voluptuous and beautiful America Ferrera, for her brave performance; to be honest she is the sole reason I eventually decided to watch this movie. I loved her in Real Women Have Curves and I was dying to see if her performance in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants would match it. I neednt have worried; Ms. Ferrera is the real deal and I hope to see more and more of her in the future. And I hope those roles are not confined to ethic portrayals of a girl/woman struggling to come to grips with her image; she is much too good an actress for that type of pigeon holing.
The setting for Lena in Greece is at times breath-taking; it takes me back to the sole time I visited the country. The sweeping hilly vista, the white stucco houses and strikingly blue water of the Mediterranean Sea all combine to make the small two where they shot an ideal retirement spot for this Bard. But there was something about Alexis Blendel, the actress that leaves me flat. Perhaps its her voice, which is whinny and somewhat childish, or her lithe body that reminds me a twelve-year-old, or a perhaps it a combination of the two, but the effect is disturbing. She all too often fades into the background of a scene, and only her striking blue eyes make you notice her. I liked her in Sin City, in which she plays a sexy, devious, vamp with attitude, but The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants she is back to plain, bland ole Alexis.
All-n-all director Ken Kwapis, heretofore a television director, did an admirable job of keeping the movie on track, and at the end, I knew I had enjoyed the ride. Though The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is clearly a movie aimed at the teenaged female market, its message is timeless and spans both genders and generations. Dads see it with your daughters
Principle Actors: Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Blendel, America Ferrera, Blake Lively, Jenna Boyd
Director: Ken Kwapis
Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, NTSC
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only
Number of Discs: (1)
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: October 11, 2005
Run Time: 119 Minutes
DVD Features: Available Subtitles: English, Spanish, French; Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1); Additional scenes with commentary by Ken Kwapis; Fun on the set: behind-the-scenes gags and laughs.
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 9 - 12
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