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Warner Home Video presents
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)

"All I know is, they make all our butts look good. That's enough for me."
- Bridget (Blake Lively)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: October 12, 2005

Stars: Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera, Blake Lively, Alexis Bledel
Other Stars: Bradley Whitford, Nancy Travis, Rachel Ticotin, Jenna Boyd
Director: Ken Kwapis

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements, some sensuality and language
Run Time: 01h:58m:34s
Release Date: October 11, 2005
UPC: 012569593343
Genre: family


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B-A-B C+

DVD Review

Imparting a few Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood for the tweener set, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, from the successful series of novels by Ann Brashares, is either a heartfelt coming-of-age story, or a major studio's crass attempt to cash in on a lucrative audience with a paint-by-numbers, overly-crafted message movie. Since this is Hollywood, it's probably a little of both, but Traveling Pants at least has some intelligence behind it, and a point, which is more than I can say for the typical, top-selling Hillary Duff fluff movie (sample message: you too can become a pop star, provided you are perfect, perky, and blonde!).

Like four chick flicks packed into one, the movie follows four best friends during a particularly eventful summer, their first spent apart. Lena (Gilmore girl Alexis Bledel) is headed to Greece to spend time with her grandparents. Upstart Bridget (Blake Lively) ships off to soccer camp to secure her phenom status. Carmen (America Ferrera), a child of divorce, is going to live with her dad (Bradley Whitford). And poor, jaded Tibby (Amber Tamblyn, no longer conversing with God), well, she's stuck at home, working at a mega-huge retailer called Wallman's (hmmm... now what oppressive chain of superstores does that name recall?) and directing her own "suckumentary" about the losers that populate her life.

So what do pants have to do with all of this? Aside from being a fun word to say, pants (pants!) can apparently also be magical, as, right before they split apart, the foursome discovers a pain of jeans that perfectly fit each one of them, from no-hipped Lena to America's Next Top Model-style plus-sized Carmen. So they make a pact. Each of them will keep the pants for two weeks, record everything that goes on while wearing them, and then mail them on to someone else. Paraphrasing the semi-obnoxious voiceover that opens the film, it was the summer of the pants, but also... the summer of trite self-discovery!

At least, that's the way it plays out to anyone familiar with dramatic convention. For you see, each girl will face her own personal drama, to be overcome with the power of the pants, and perhaps a touch of believing in one's self. For Lena, it's mending a vague, Romeo & Juliet rift between her family and that of the hunky Greek boy drawn to her decadent and ultra-sexy American blue jeans. For Bridget, it's learning maybe, sometimes, it's better to keep your magical pants on, wink wink. Carmen, well, her story doesn't have much to do with pants, but she does get to learn a valuable lesson about dad moving on and finding a family he's actually willing to be involved with (and a WASPy wife who can treat her Latina step-daughter like an exotic museum exhibit). As for Tibby, well, she's got something more magical in store than some old thrift store pants—this summer, she'll be one of the many to turn her life around after encountering everyone's favorite cinematic creation, the Beatific Cancer Child (Jenna Boyd).

These aren't exactly new stories, but they are fairly well-told, if a bit on-the-nose. Director Ken Kwapis, working from a script by Delia Ephron and Elizabeth Chandler, keeps things moving from character to character without losing track of the narrative, and all four actresses are given their moment to shine. Their performances are pretty good, but, despite all the drama, they aren't given a lot to do—Ferrera and Tamblyn get all the best scenes, as the other two plot lines are pretty dull, despite the lovely Grecian locales (who wouldn't want to visit Stereotype Island?).

I can't say I really enjoyed The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but then, I'm not exactly part of its target audience, either. Loaded with perky, relatable actresses, big, big emotions, and relevant (if thuddingly obvious) life lessons, the movie will appeal to the same preteen, tween, and teen girls that turned the books into best sellers. And I hate to play into gender stereotypes, usually, but really, this time, boys need not apply, as this movie is just as girly as the title implies.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: This new release looks very good on DVD, with strong colors, good detail, and a lack of edge enhancement and artifacting—another fine effort from Warner Home Video. A full-frame release is available seperately.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: On the audio side, the Sisterhood is a bit subdued, but this front-heavy mix serves the film well enough. Dialogue is clear and natural and the front mains are put to good use filling out the pop songs on the soundtrack and handling the rare dynamic sound effect.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 35 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Gilmore Girls, Monster In Law
8 Deleted Scenes
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Video commentary on select scenes
  2. Suckumentary
Extras Review: The bonus features for The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants are obviously aimed at the film's target audience, so if that doesn't include you, please, put down the remote and back away slowly.

There's no traditional commentary. Instead, there's a video feature that allows us to watch Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera, and Amber Tamblyn watch a few of their favorite scenes and talk about filming. They look like they're ready to have a slumber party, and their observations are appropriate to that setting, from comments on what everyone is wearing to how their hair looks to how fun it was to make a movie. Whee! Actually, the trio is kind of amusing as they crack jokes and enjoy the movie, but this fluffy feature gets annoying pretty quick. Though I do like the bit where the rail-thin Bledel is encouraged to eat an extra brownie for the absent Blake Lively and she refuses.

Ann Brashares, author of the books upon which the movie is based, offers her perspective in the 10-minute, aptly named A Conversation with Author Ann Brashares. The stars share “on-set gags and laughs” in the brief making-of Fun on the Set (4m:42s).

Eight deleted scenes offer a few cut sequences for each storyline, though most come from Bledel's Greek romance. Director Ken Kwapis offers commentary explaining why they were deleted.

Suckumentary (6m:58s) presents a rough edit of the faux-documentary footage Tamblyn's character assembles during the film. She's not exactly Errol Morris, but it's kind of a neat idea for a bonus feature, even if the ultimate product is shockingly mean-spirited (until the influence of Beautific Cancer Child takes root, that is).

Lastly, the disc includes the theatrical trailer, and begins with forced spots for Gilmore Girls and Monster In Law.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is not the most subtle movie ever made, but its energetic cast and frank storytelling will make it a hit with its target audience. Sure, the plot is strung together from four after school specials, but at least it's a movie about teenagers who seem like real people, dealing with real-life problems (OK, except for maybe the whole forbidden romance on a Greek isle thing).

 


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