Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Director: Ken Kwapis)

Kwapis has a huge TV resume, mostly with "Malcolm in the Middle," but he also contributed a lot to "The Larry Sanders Show," "Grounded For Life," and "The Bernie Mac Show." Then he directed a couple of episodes of "Freaks & Geeks" and a series I really thought might be something long ago that ran into a wall, "Eerie, Indiana," which was 1991's attempt at something like "Lost." His movies are not stellar--we have mildly recognizable flicks such as Vibes and He Said, She Said along with notable disasters Dunston Checks In and The Beautician and the Beast. Based on the novel by Ann Brashares, the script is from Delia Ephron, Nora's sister.

It would probably be easy to dismiss this film as simply a chick flick. I certainly did, although that doesn't mean it's necessarily a bad thing. It is a bad thing if that movie decides to be a lopsided male-bashing fest, or the cure for women's cares are proved to be hot baths or ice cream, or the movie is that crap Monster-in-Law.

Since the movie is none of those things, it actually gets a chance to be worthwhile. The movie follows four friends, the hottie Bridget (Blake Lively), would-be writer, big boo-tayed Carmen (America Ferrera, from Real Women Have Curves), punky but humorless would-be documentarian Tibby (Amber Tamblyn of "Joan of Arcadia"), and insecure, always level-headed Lena (Alexis Bledel, in her 3rd film of the year). Bridget is going to Mexico to participate in a soccer camp, Lena is going to Greece to live with her grandparents, Carmen is visiting distant father Al (Bradley Whitford), who has sprung a surprise that he's getting re-married to a woman (Nancy Travis) with two kids, and Tibby stays behind in Maryland, working at "Wallman's," doing her documentary on real people, running into leukemia-stricken Bailey (Jenna Boyd, who's excellent). The traveling pants of the picture is this pair of pants that happens to fit all of them magically, and they invent this idea that the pants will bring them luck, and they send the pair to each other after wearing them for one week. Of course, complications arise out of romance, loss, and that whole coming-of-age thing. Damn pants!

This is a movie that, like last week's Madagascar (yes, I'm comparing the two) has a focus problem. The movie is at its best when it stays in Maryland, with Tibby, and the down-home story that is constructed there, and a good compliment is Carmen's story, which is in South Carolina. Going to Greece and Mexico is jarring after that. The other thing is Tamblyn and Ferrera are the most engaging actresses, not only due to talent that all four possess, but their stories--it's not Lively or Bledel's fault exactly, but their stories handicap the picture. I'm sure on the page it seems great. In a movie, just when you get in the cozy confines of a Wallman's store, the movie yanks you out to the Mediterranean and the boring, unbelievable romance between Lena and Kostas (Michael Rady). Then there's Bridget's soccer camp in Mexico, where she pulls out all of the stops to seduce this counsellor guy (Mike Vogel)--all a part of her mother dying and trying to unhealthily move on. It just doesn't fit into the mood, although Lively's character is the most spirited of the group.

So, kind of 50/50 for me, and the movie does come to a resounding finish, with Ferrera and Tamblyn taking over for the resolutions to their stories, and thus it ends well. Therefore, it's a recommended movie, one of the better ones of the year.


At 6/01/2005 12:18:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Man, it's that kind of year I guess. Although you liked it, you had quite a few problems with it, but yet it's still one of the better movies of the year. I have to admit the previews have me a little interested; it looks like a pretty decent movie. It's funny that it probably won't make the kind of money it probably deserves, because most of the only guys that are going to see it are the ones dragged by their girlfriends or wives. You would think if women can sit through testosterone fueled action pictures, we could sit through movies like this.


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