Ken Kwapis’ ‘The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’ (2005)

20Jun05

Why, oh why couldn’t it have been The Sisterhood of the Traveling Jeans? But my auditory discomfort aside, Ken Kwapis’ (Hey, I just looked him up and realized that he directed two episodes of Freaks & Geeks. You go, man.) film based on the novel by Ann Brashares is a solid motion picture with limited missteps that delivers two hours of entertainment.

The film’s assets:

  1. The acting. The performances delivered in this film by the female leads are all solid, with Amber Tamblyn and America Ferrara’s as the stand-outs. Of the four leads, Blake Lively has the shortest filmography and her lack of experience is evident in her performance. While she does not embarrass herself, she does not make Bridget as distinctive as the other three young women. Tamblyn and Ferrara’s stories are the most interesting, but Alexis Bledel manages to make her romance-by-rote engaging thanks to her acting skills and a charismatic co-star. Mike Vogel — Lively’s love interest — plays Eric as a bland pretty boy, which combined with Lively’s less-engaging performance serves to make Bridget’s story the least interesting. But the four leads are incredibly engaging when together. The scenes with Ferrara and Tamblyn are some of the film’s best moments. As a supporting character, Jenna Boyd also delivers a fine performance.

The film doesn’t really have any offenses, which is why it is perfect for its target audience of 12- to 16-year-old girls. But that does not mean that the movie is without flaws — the script is hardly perfect. Some weaknesses:

  1. Lena’s story is very formulaic.
  2. Carmen and Bridget’s stories end too succinctly.
  3. The screenplay drifts into the sappy and melodramatic a few times, but at other times the dialogue sparkles. Kwapis chose to allow the leads to overlap their dialogue in their scenes together, which gives the scenes a very natural feeling but causes the audience to miss some dialogue. I intend to rent the film when it comes out on DVD so that I can decipher more of the throwaway lines because the ones that I did catch were pretty funny.
  4. Even though Boyd is playing a 12-year-old dying of leukemia, some of her dialogue sounds a little mature for a girl of her age. And even with her old-soul-in-a-young-body persona Boyd doesn’t quite manage to sell some of the lines.
  5. Bridget’s story was also disappointing because it seemed as though the writers did not follow through completely. With the film’s target audience consisting mainly of young girls, I thought that screenwriters Delia Ephron and Elizabeth Chandler could have better handled Bridget’s reaction to losing her virginity. And even though they hinted at it, they did not come back to Bridget’s need for attention from an older man stemming from the lack of attention she was receiving from her father.

But the film’s missteps do not impinge on its overall effect. There is an honesty to these stories and their portrayals that makes them emotionally impactful, despite some manipulation involved in the telling.

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