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With: Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera, Amber Tamblyn, Blake Lively, Jenna Boyd, Bradley Whitford, Nancy Travis
Written by: Delia Ephron, Elizabeth Chandler, based on the novel by Ann Brashares
Directed by: Ken Kwapis
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements, some sensuality and language
Running Time: 119
Date: 05/31/2005

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Seamless 'Pants'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

It's true that most films are aimed at teenage boys and so, when thatrare film comes along with other audiences in mind, there's a lot moreat stake.

The recent The Interpreter was doubly disappointing, not only because it wasn't very smart, but also because the next grown-up film wouldn't come along for some time.

Films for teenage girls are rare, and good ones are the rarest of all. Imagine a roomful of mostly male movie executives desperately trying to figure out what this elusive audience wants to see.

So call it something of a minor miracle that The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants has turned out so enormously enjoyable. It's so effective that it has coaxed real tears from tough male critics (this one included).

Though its title conjures up bad memories of the saccharine Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Traveling Pants quickly leaves them behind with its story of four very different friends bonded by their similar ages (their pregnant mothers met in aerobics class).

On the verge of their first summer apart, the friends stumble upon a pair of jeans that magically fits all of their various body types. They agree to share the jeans, each for a week at a time before shipping them off to the next wearer.

Visiting her relatives in Greece, Lena (Alexis Bledel) falls in love with a boy, but stirs up a generations-old family feud. Blonde Bridget (Blake Lively) goes to a Mexican soccer camp and tries to seduce the hunky coach in order to make up for her own emotional emptiness.

Voluptuous, ethnic Carmen (America Ferrera) travels to see her divorced dad (Bradley Whitford), now married to a blonde, blue-eyed family, with little time for black sheep. And Tibby (Amber Tamblyn, Russ's daughter) stays home for a soul-sucking department store job and to finish her documentary about losers. But a pestering young girl (the remarkable Jenna Boyd) provides more help than she expected.

With each character getting only a fourth of the running time, writers Delia Ephron and Elizabeth Chandler and director Ken Kwapis (TV's "The Office") still somehow manage to fully flesh out each girl. The filmmakers keep up a delicate and respectful pace, never stumbling or rushing through plot points or character arcs. Even more impressively, none of the storylines overpowers any other.

On paper, these stories could easily have fallen into the maudlin or hackneyed (some of the plot gimmicks include cancer and suicide). But, inexplicably, it works. The filmmakers appear to have appropriated some of the same magic from the pants and poured it into their movie.

DVD Details: Warner Home Video has put together a fun DVD worthy of their effective little movie. There are several little featurettes and outtakes that illustrate how well the girls got along during filming, as well as a director's commentary track and deleted scenes.

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