Starring: Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera, Alexis Bledel
Directed by: Sanaa Hamri (“Something New”)
Written by: Elizabeth Chandler (“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”)
While I was not much of a fan of the first film released three years ago, there were, at least, some thematic elements that bordered on over-sentimentality, but generated strong life lessons. In “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2,” all those tween dreams are wasted away as the girly foursome is faced with a new set of problems, all of which are despairingly disjointed.
There is not much of a sisterhood in “Pants 2” as Tibby (Amber Tamblyn), Lena (Alexis Bledel), Carmen (America Ferrera), and Bridget (Blake Lively), graduate from high school and are now at different colleges. As in the first one, a pair of worn-out jeans they can all magically fit into, helps link them to one another as they plan to spend their summer apart.
Lena decides to take a sketching class at the Rhode Island School of Design where she stumbles into a relationship with one of the nude models. Filmmaker-wannabe Tibby takes up a job at a local video store and is presumably working on a screenplay while juggling a courteous boyfriend. Bridget has packed her bags for Turkey where she will dig up bones on an archeological expedition and sort out her life after the death of her mother. And Carmen, who was expecting all the girls to spend the summer together, ends up in Vermont auditioning (under duress) for a part in a Shakespeare play.
While away, the magic pants become a meaningless prop as the girls Fed Ex them back and forth to each other with notes about whether or not anything miraculous happened when they were worn. Forget miraculous. If something even remotely convincing happened to any of the four, it was quickly smothered by the clumsy direction of Sanaa Hamri, not to mention odd editing choices by Melissa Kent (“Something New”). It’s not so much that Kent cut it up like a daytime soap opera, it’s that it seems like when she returns to one of the girl’s stories 15 minutes later, she forgot where the bookmark was.
More distressing is that after an entire summer that these girls are supposed to be “finding themselves” in this pseudo-coming-of-age tale, they all seem to stay as baffled by life as they were from the beginning.
Still, it’s the boy problems (they all have them except for Bridget who is happily living the single life) that manage to swamp “Pants 2” the most, like any other formulaic teenage dramedy. The demographic it aims at will surely find the drippy stories innocent enough, but anyone not plugged into Miley Cyrus-type meltdowns should probably ask for a pass.