Amber Tamblyn as Tibby
Alexis Bledel as Lena
America Ferrera as Carmen
Blake Lively as Bridget
Jenna Boyd as Bailey
Bradley Whitford as Al
Nancy Travis as Lydia Rodman
Mike Vogel as Eric
Michael Rady as Kostas
Four friends – Tibby (Amber Tamblyn), Lena (Alexis Bledel), Carmen (America Ferrera), and Bridget (Blake Lively) – who have done everything together their entire lives find themselves, on the summer of their 16th year, separating for the first time. In order to keep themselves close even while separated, they agree to share a pair of second-hand jeans that magically fits all of them while they go on their separate life altering adventures.
It sounds like it should be incredibly trite, but it never really is, despite a few alarming dips into the waters of cliché. Strong, if slightly overdone, performances from the four leads carry a well-crafted film along to its emotional but never quite poignant ending. Director Ken Kwapis keeps events flowing smoothly between the four stories with skillful intercutting, giving each story its due time to build. The only one that gets a short shrift is Bridget’s, which feels like it’s building to an emotional realization but never quite gets there. Carmen’s story of estrangement from her father (Bradley Whitford) and his life is the best of the bunch; her emotional confrontation with him is well done by everyone involved and rings true with pathos and turmoil.
The only real problem with the film is the dialogue, which isn’t bad, but is so self-aware and adult it often does not fit coming out of these supposed teenager’s mouths. And the younger the characters get, the more adult their dialogue is. Twelve-year-old Bailey (Jenna Boyd) who is dying of leukemia sounds like an old man talking about mysteries of life. Certainly the knowledge of impending death will create a certain amount of lucidity for anyone, but there are some thing’s twelve-year-olds can’t know because they haven’t had the life experience yet. It sounds too often like the writer is speaking instead of the character.
These are minor quibbles of an overall solid film that any teen or pre-teen girl should find particularly involving, though it may not do much for anyone else.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is rated PG for thematic elements, some sensuality and language.