The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, which you will agree has one of the more ungainly titles of recent years, is everything that Sex and the City wanted to be. It follows the lives of four women, their career adventures, their romantic disasters and triumphs, their joys and sadness. These women are all in their early 20s, which means they are learning lifes lessons; SATC is about forgetting them.
The traveling pants, you will recall, are a pair of jeans that the four best friends tried on in a clothing store in the 2005 movie. Magically, they were a perfect fit for all four. So they agree that each can wear the jeans for a week of the coming summer, and then FedEx them to the next name in rotation. Following the jeans, in both movies, we follow key moments in the girls lives.
Carmen is my favorite. Played by the glowing America Ferrara (Real Women Have Curves), she has followed her tall blond friend Julia (Rachel Nichols) to Vermont, where Julia will spend the summer at the Village Playhoause. Carmen sees herself as a stagehand, but is dragged into an audition by a talented British actor named Ian (Tom Wisdom) and amazingly gets the female lead in A Winters Tale. Not so amazingly, she falls in love with Ian, and the jealous Julia tries to sabotage her happiness. Meanwhile, her remarried mother produces a baby brother for her.
Alexis Bledel plays Lena, not very happy in her video store job, but deeply in love with Brian (Leonardo Nam) until she gets a pregnancy scare and shuts down emotionally. Shes afraid of commitment, always such a handy alibi. Amber Tamblyn is Tibby, at Yale for the summer, recovering from her great love for Kostas (Michael Rady), the Greek boy who she thinks loves another woman. Blake Lively is Bridget, who goes on an archeological dig in Turkey, adopts the supervising professor (Shohreh Aghdashloo) as a mother-figure, then flies home to seek out her grandmother (Blythe Danner) and learn for the first time the details of her own mothers death.
The movie intercuts quickly but not confusingly from one story to another, is dripping with seductive locations, is not shy about romantic cliches, and has a lot of heart. There women are all sincere, intelligent, vulnerable, sweet, warm. Thats in contrast to SATC with its narcissistic and shallow heroines. The SATC ladies should fill their flasks with Cosmopolitans, go to see The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, and cry their hearts out with futile regret for their misspent lives.
Because the four leads spend the summer in different places, the movie has an excuse to drop in interesting supporting characters. Blythe Danner is splendid as the Alabama grandmother who knows the whole story of Bridgets mom. Leonardo Nam is a kind and perceptive boyfriend for Lena, Shohreh Aghdashloo (The House of Sand and Fog) is a role model for Bridget, Kyle MacLachlan has fun as the wine-sipping director of the summer playhouse, Tom Wisdom does a lot with the small role of the playhouse star. And Rachel Nichols as Julia proves a principle that should be in the Little Movie Glossary: If a short, curvy, sun-kissed heroine has a tall, thin blonde as a roommate, that blonde is destined to be a drag. No way around it.