Traveling pants take on freshman 15

College doesn’t prove as endearing a setting for this fiber-woven foursome

Becky Lang

T

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

Directed by: Sanaa Hamri
Starring: Blake Lively, Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera

the last “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” film was full of tear-jerking scenes just real enough to be relatable and glamorous enough to be set in Greece or stuck in daring wardrobe choices. Plus, it contained one of the most deliciously detestable portrayals of a WASP- y family who plays tennis to sublimate their secret disasters. It left just enough trouble blooming to ensure that the sequel would be a sizzler.

Unfortunately, the plainly titled “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2” leaves its predecessor’s dynamics behind, dropping several plot lines and plopping the film down in new territory: college and all the dorm room dating drama it implies.

A year or so is clumsily summarized with telling scenes, like Carmen (Ferrera) looking at a photo of her now-pregnant mom in front of a “sold” sign for her house. The pants have adopted a number of tacky patches, including one by the artist Lena (Bledel) of a paint palette. (Note to all Hollywood producers: Real college artists would never put a patch of a paint palette on their pants.)

College has rendered the four girls lonely and crabby, and put in all of their paths a chiseled man or two. Ferrera takes the new college angst to the maximum, and plays Carmen with a constant – and annoying – condescending glare. Her chiseled man, a British theater enthusiast played by Tom Wisdom (300) is a drama king who tries to talk like Shakespeare in everyday life. Needless to say, not so charming. One welcome introduction to the film is the provocative Jesse Williams, who lures Lena out of her shyness by posing naked for a figure drawing class.

This latest rotation of those mystical pants does have some interesting developments. Lena’s little sister, Effie, who looks eerily like Denise Richards, plays a ditzy I-get-what-I-want-when-I-want-it brat with acute ferocity. Tibby (Tamblyn) has a shining moment of characteristic awkwardness when she tries to help with the delivery of a baby.

But altogether, the cogs in the plot of the sequel feel like problems that the characters each blandly forced out of their own lives. Hard to buy, and unnecessary after the last film had set the chess pieces of the next conflicts so perfectly. The film will undoubtedly accomplish its task of getting teenage girls to have sleepovers and run to the Kleenex box, but something feels like it’s missing.