When I was a junior in high school ― back in small-town Arkansas ― I was a member of one of those informal high-school secret societies, made up of five or six close friends known only as The Brothers in Lard, or for the nonmembers, simply: B.I.L. The initiation rites were pretty straightforward: New recruits were taken to train tracks in a barren part of town at around 2 a.m., made to assemble a “Lardhat” (consisting of a watermelon resting in a 50 pound bucket of Crisco), and asked to watch it explode as a freight train came into contact with it, at which time we’d pelt one another with the remaining lard globules until someone got pissed off and went home. As B.I.L., we did mostly what other guys our age did: we pelted cars with grapes, blew up toilets in our teachers’ yards, sat around campfires with a bottle of Captain Morgan, and, eventually, got arrested for blowing up mailboxes with pipe bombs, a bit of mischief that not only shut down the town’s post office for a day, but led to the ultimate dissolution of the Brothers in Lard.
I mention this story only to call attention to the difference between boys and girls: Brotherhoods engage in amateur terrorism, and Sisterhoods - well, they try on pants. And though thrift-store shopping isn’t generally cause for a lot of excitement, in our case, it would’ve at least saved our ringleader from having his admission to WestPoint pulled.
Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes! The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Now, there’s a movie you ought not to send a guy who blew up mailboxes to review, huh? Well, here goes: Sisterhood follows four teenaged chicklets, all best friends from birth, who discover a pair of vintage jeans that miraculously fit all of their disparate figures perfectly - and none too soon, given that the girls are all going their separate ways for the summer on the very next day. So, the ladies break into a Yoga studio, partake in some Captain Morgan (a detail not shown on camera, but surely …), and form their own little secret society, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, a sorority of four who decide to share a pair of (fucking) Levi’s.
Well, who do we have: First, there’s Lena (Alexis Bledel), who is heading to Greece for the summer, and is notable for hiding her outer beauty in the hopes that others (i.e., Greek Boys) will find her inner beauty. Then there is Bridget (Blake Lively), who just lost her mother, and is trying to run away from the pain by throwing herself into soccer practice and a quest to get laid. Next, there is Tibby (Amber Tamblyn), the blue-haired sorority rebel, who decides to stay home and to film a documentary about suburban banality. And, finally, there is Carmen (America Ferrara), a Puerto Rican girl with lots of ass and little self-esteem, who is heading to South Carolina in the hopes of making good with her estranged father (Bradley Whitford).
For the first hour or so, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants - written by Delia Ephron (the third of the Hollywood Brontes,) and based on Anna Brashares seminal chick-lit novel - travels a well-worn path of girl-school hokum and platitudes, exploring typical issues of teenage-angst, self-esteem, and family dynamics. Mostly, it’s a sickly sweet, well-lit ode to female friendship, blah blah blah blah blah.
And then, damn. The fucking floor falls out beneath me.
As a movie reviewer, I can only hang on to my critical faculties for so long, and there are generally two things that Hollywood can throw at me that I just can’t resist ― my critiquing kryptonite, if you will: 1) I’m a sucker for the trick play, and 2) I just can’t … I cannot … deal with the dying kid. And hell if Sisterhood doesn’t pull out the sick brat (Jenny Boyd), insists she’s cute as hell, and parade her around like a goddamn rag doll. And yeah. There I am, and 30-year-old crabby-ass man, sitting in the back of a theater that consists entirely of teenaged girls, and what am I doing? What’s that? Is that my lip quivering? No! Look away from the screen. No! Don’t! Not again! Oh god! Here it comes! Is anyone looking? Jesus. NO! What if my football buddies find out? This can’t be … oh Lord. Am I weeping? Seriously! Unbelievable. I can’t be. Surely not! But, I am. I’m crying like a goddamn baby!
You heard me, fuck off!
I’m still not recommending Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, though.
OK, maybe a soft recommend.
Oh, fine. Go see it. But only by yourself. In an empty theater. And don’t tell anyone. For god’s sake, don’t tell anyone.
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba and lord over a small online publishing fiefdom. He lives in Ithaca, New York.
Film | May 13, 2006 | Comments ()