A review of “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: PG for mature themes and language

Run Time: 2 hours

 

 

Pants of destiny is an unusual premise but even the most dubious critic -- my 18-year old daughter -- was charmed by this mature and provocative teen drama.

Carmen, Lena, Tibby and Bridget (America Ferrera, Alexis Bledel, Amber Tamblyn and Blake Lively respectively) have stuck with each other through thick and thin; through bras, braces, divorces and deaths. They’ve never been parted, until the momentous summer that alters their young lives in new and profound ways. 

Fate steps in and scatters the girls to the four corners during their sixteenth summer and the foursome fights back with a poignant pact.  A pact composed with the help of a mystical pair of thrift-shop jeans that improbably (and scientifically impossibly) fits each of them perfectly.

The objective is to wear the pants for a week and FedEx them on to the next girl along with a journal entry chronicling seven days of adventure.  And oh what adventures: Lena visiting grandparents in Santorini, Greece and falling in love with a handsome young fisherman and Carmen finally spending quality time with her out-of-state absentee dad.

Bridget tears up the turf (and hearts) at an elite Mexico soccer camp while Tibby keeps the home fires burning with a drudge Wal-Mart-ish job and a chance to shoot that long overdue documentary (“suckumentary”) about fellow losers with dead-end jobs.

A zany list of rules is appended to the traveling pants but the key principle is to love your sisters and love yourself.  Pants is a profoundly sweet take on girls growing into women – who they were, who they are and who they’ll be. 

The four lead actresses offer frank, nuanced performances that span the emotional rainbow; Ferrera and Tamblyn in particular deliver some heartbreaking sentiment.  Jenna Boyd gives a touching turn as a neighborhood pre-teen with a tragic secret who befriends Tibby when she needs a friend the most.

Sappy narrative misfires do little to alter the film’s fetching honesty and refreshing reality.  Target audience is likely fans of Ann Brashares’ best-selling novel of the same name but this winsome coming-of-ager is a winner for all.