Saturday, August 9, 2008

"Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2"

I really enjoyed watching this movie even more than I loved seeing the first "Traveling Pants". Both movies have many scenes filmed in the spectacularly beautiful Greek island of Santorini. The first "Traveling Pants" movie inspired me to look at the island's breathtaking cliffs on a visit there last year. "Traveling Pants 2" returns to this photogenic island again. Other scenes are taken in New York and various college campuses in the U.S. and abroad, perhaps in Turkey.

The story revolves around the adventures of four girlfriends who share a pair of jeans that they hope will keep them emotionally connected. It seems to work and they stay friends to the end, albeit with some bumps in the road. They each have the jeans for a short period of time and pass them along, rotating them. It's a clever idea! But this movie is all about emotional transformation. Each of the characters learns and grows from unique life experiences.

Bridget, played very sensitively by Blake Lively reconnects with her grandmother (Blyth Danner) after an educational anthropological dig in Turkey, though not where I've been in Turkey (also filmed spectacularly well). She learns about her father's attempts to shield her following the painful death of her mother, and has to understand her own feelings, maturing and growing beyond her special loss.

Carmen, a Yale rising sophomore played by America Ferrera finds love and semi-professional development unexpectedly in Vermont while away from her pregnant mother. Julia, her beautiful blonde Yale friend played by Rachel Nichols was also very convincingly portrayed and well-acted.

Lena, the cute "Greek-American" girl, played adorably by Alexis Bledel is well-developed as a sister, friend and love heroine. She chooses between two young men working to a satisfying conclusion with one of them.

Tibby, the "video-store girl"/ playwright played by Amber Tamblyn has emotional challenges worrying about a possible pregnancy, her relationship with her boyfriend, her friendship with America Ferrera, helping her with her mother's childbirth.

There were many male roles in the movie as well. All characters were played with depth, sincerity and sensitivity. I felt that all characters were on target and age appropriate with their concerns and problems. The way they helped each other solve love and life problems was beautiful and very modern and realistic. Photography was very complicated as scenes rotated following the characters (and the pants) but each scene segued into the next very seamlessly and understandably.

Other reviews I have read have not uniformly rated this movie highly, nevertheless, I enjoyed it a lot. The audience around me applauded after the end! Any time a reviewer pans a "chick flick" I have noticed the reviewer tends, almost always to be a man. Women will tend to give hot reviews, or at worst tentative or lukewarm, of this emerging group of female-oriented movies. In view of this, I must raise a virtual objection. I promise I won't write about most violent or male-oriented films at all because I have a problem sitting through some of them, let alone saying anything nice.

Moreover, maybe those male reviewers should be reminded that it is still a man's world and that they have the power with their unfavorable reviews to squelch this new category of female-targeted movies that is late but very welcome to very many of us. I can assure any reader that low-budget "chick flicks" like these tend to have most of the female half of the population gratefully (but maybe too quietly) loving them for giving us our chance in the limelight and at the very least admiring the guts and courage of the producers for making them.

Sadly, it is likely that these chick flicks will not win important critical awards. Indeed, they have so far usually been passed over for big awards, even as they have few if any special effects or expensive action-adventure machinery. But for lots of us, they are very satisfying, soothing and worthwhile for our souls. This is emotionally where we want to go for awhile and we are very happy we took the time out to see them.

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