Bledel (left), Ferrera, Tamblyn and Lively celebrate Sisterhood.
THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS 2 (Sanaa Hamri). 117 minutes. Now playing. For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNN
Three years after the titular jeans prompted a summer of bonding and self-discovery, the BFFs of the Sisterhood are college-age women, their personalities and problems far more complex and interesting than the first time around. But the film itself doesn't quite do its characters justice.
Sisterhood 2 starts off with the four protagonists embarking on a new round of summer adventures. Bold Bridget (Blake Lively) works through the grief from her mother's suicide at an archaeological dig in Turkey, while alterna-girl Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) faces down a pregnancy scare in New York. Bookworm Carmen (America Ferrera) upstages the prettier girls in a Vermont theatre class, and back home, creative Lena (Alexis Bledel) romances a nude art model to get over her Greek ex-lover.
Director Sanaa Hamri trades in the preteen girl fantasies of the first Sisterhood for a more honest approach (sex, while still not explicit, isn't just hinted at in chaste makeout sessions), and the actors reward her, particularly Tamblyn, whose authenticity draws laughs and sobs in equal measure.
Pity that screenwriter Elizabeth Chandler, again adapting the novels by Ann Brashares, hasn't matured along with the characters. Her structure for the sequel is identical to its predecessor - engaging set-up followed by an endless string of tearjerking payoffs. The sustained emotional high notes leave you numb.