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By Stina Chyn | August 8, 2008

As Carmen Lowell (America Ferrara) narrates over the opening sequence in “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2” (Sanaa Hamri), the sequel to 2005’s “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” (Ken Kwapis), that much has happened to her and her three best friends, Tibby Tomko-Rollins (Amber Tamblyn), Lena Kaligaris (Alexis Bledel), and Bridget Vreeland (Blake Lively), since a pair of blue jeans entered their lives. Two summers have passed; the girls have graduated from high school and have gone off to the world of higher education. Tibby attends NYU, Bridget is at Brown on a soccer scholarship, Lena studies art at the Rhode Island School of Design, and Carmen is at Yale.

The plot properly begins with the start of summer vacation. Carmen intends to reconnect with her friends, but they have their
own plans. Tibby has summer school, Lena is taking a drawing class, and Bridget is off to an archaeological dig in Turkey. With nothing better to do than await a future baby brother, Carmen goes to Vermont with Julia (Rachel Nichols), a college friend, to be a technical director for the Village Arts Theatre. The summer has barely begun and she’s already not quite looking forward to it.

The personal issues that each girl dealt with in the first film resurface and catalyze emotional growth within each character.
Cynical Tibby and her boyfriend Brian (Leonardo Nam) re-examine their relationship; extroverted Bridget confronts unresolved tensions concerning her dad (Ernie Lively) with some guidance from an archaeology professor (Shohreh Aghdashloo) and a grandmother (Blythe Danner); Lena learns what it means to be truly in love; and Carmen experiences a renewal of sorts, given that her mother remarried and is expecting a child.

The second “Sisterhood,” based on Ann Brashares’s novel Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood, focuses more on the characters’ individual lives than the jeans to demonstrate the challenges that distance and growing older can pose to the bonds of friendship. The girls send the jeans to each other via FedEx and the postal service, but until the final narrative arc, it’s possible to forget the pants even exist if one isn’t paying attention. The pacing and alternating between storylines are well-timed. While it’s still difficult to watch Alexis Bledel speak and not think of Rory Gilmore, the sheer pleasure in seeing her on the screen again sufficiently overrides the association.

I’d also like to acknowledge the work of Jim Denault, Dona Granata, George DeTitta Jr.,
Andrew Max Cahn, and
Gae S. Buckley for giving the film a rich and high quality look in terms of cinematography, costume design, set decoration, art direction, and production design. Appearances aren’t everything, but when there are teenaged girls and matters of the heart and soul involved, then the way a movie looks is as significant as the story it tells. For Carmen, Tibby, Lena, and Bridget, their sisterhood shines even brighter the second time around.

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