In contrast to some of the more mature teenage entertainments today, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants franchise, with its girl power focus, has a charming earnestness about it. But the series' nostalgia for adolescence is at odds with some of the more adult themes at play, leaving the sequel looking like a film in search of an audience.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (rated PG-13 for mature material and sensuality) finds its four stars still sharing a pair of magical pants, but moving on to more Ivy League pastures. Bridget (Blake Lively) is playing soccer at Brown; Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) studies film at NYU; Lena (Alexis Bledel) attends Rhode Island School of Design; and Carmen (America Ferrera) goes to Yale.
Setting out to various exotic locales for the summer as the girls approach their 20s, the charms, patches, and drawings that lend the jeans their sentimental value also date them and limit the arc of their stories. The four actresses seem to enjoy their roles, frolicking in the light-hearted plot elements, but the film's flippant approach to suicide, pregnancy, and shotgun marriages throws the story off kilter.
Sisterhood manages a picturesque fairy tale for its young audience, but parents may not find the convoluted dramas any more wholesome or uplifting than the hot-and-bothered plights that make up shows like Lively's Gossip Girl.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 has an appealing familiarity to it, but the stars' increasing age leaves the awkward feeling that they are trying to fit into something they have long since outgrown.