PG for thematic elements,
some sensuality and language.
June 3, 2005
Amber Rose Tamblyn, Alexis
Bledel, Blake Lively, America Ferrera, Bradley Whitford
Novel by Ann Brashares
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The Sisterhood of the Traveling
Dr. Tom Snyder
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a melodrama
aimed at teenage girls that tangles the stories of four lifelong
friends who each go on a summer adventure and find themselves
lonely for vastly different reasons.
Lena (Alexis Bledel) is a shy, serious girl who is going to Greece
for the summer to see her grandparents. While sketching buildings
in the village, she happens upon a dynamic college student who
makes her realize that she alienates herself from people because
of insecurity. Bridget (Blake Lively), meanwhile, goes to Mexico
for soccer camp. She is still stinging from the recent suicide
of her mother and tries to bury her loneliness and hurt through
a relationship with one of the coaches.
A third friend, Carmen (America Ferrera), travels to South Carolina
to spend time with her occasionally estranged father, played by
Bradley Whitford of The West Wing. Once she arrives,
Carmen’s father tells her that he is about to remarry, and
that he is already living with the woman and her two children.
Carmen is heartbroken and feels excluded from her father’s
life. Finally, Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) is staying at home in Virginia
to work and make a documentary. She feels like her friends have
abandoned her, but she begrudgingly makes a new friend who makes
her reevaluate her attitudes.
Although Sisterhood shares many of the trappings of
those vapid, tacky WB Network dramas, it approaches its characters
and their problems thoughtfully. These girls’ problems,
after all – alienation from parents, disappointment from
friends, disapproval of oneself – are very common ones.
The movie, and probably the book upon which it is based, seems
designed to let teenagers know that they are not alone in their
problems and that there is, in fact, an end in sight.
Unfortunately, the glimmer of hope offered by the movie isn’t
a substantial one. A 12-year-old emerges as a Tuesday with
Morrie-style oracle who tells Tibby that she has to look
for the happy parts of life and live for them, since those fleeting
good moments are the only reason to keep going. Christians would
differ with that notion and supply a few other reasons to live:
to glorify God, to love others and share the Gospel with them,
and to be obedient to their Creator. The advice that Tibby shares
with the other girls is a vain philosophy that leaves people constantly
searching for temporal pleasure instead of lasting joy. This bad
philosophy infects so many teen television programs and movies
and is partially responsible for a generation that is desperately
and disappointedly searching for happiness without any clue as
to where they can find it.
character illustrates this aimless pleasure seeking. Bridget,
the girl at soccer camp, throws herself at a boy a few years older
than she. She thinks that the boy’s affection, both emotional
and physical, will distract her from the terrible pain she feels
after the death of her mother. Although it is not depicted but
only referenced later, Bridget loses her virginity to the boy,
and then grieves her mistake. Sex did not make her feel better,
only more lonely, since the connection she experienced with the
boy wasn’t a meaningful one. That’s a salient point
to make, but the movie glosses over it in the final minutes, assigning
a pat and unsatisfying conclusion to Bridget’s unhappiness.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants has its fare share
of wrongheaded and just plain silly moments (Lena and her Greek
suitor declare their heartfelt love after only a few days), but
it also encourages loving reconciliation of family, as in Carmen’s
case. The movie’s ending, when Carmen must decide what role
she’ll play in her father’s new life, is extremely
touching and made many members of the advance screening audience
This movie is very well acted and well considered. It offers
the audience lifelike characters who breathe emotion into situations
that are otherwise trite. A dicey worldview makes Sisterhood
a poor choice for teenagers who would be unduly influenced, but
the girls’ complex problems can also provide a good starting
point for meaningful discussion about God’s true purpose
for our life.
Address Comments To:
Barry M. Meyer, Chairman/CEO
Warner Bros., Inc.
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522-0001
Phone: (818) 954-6000
NOTE from Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide Magazine.
For more information from a Christian perspective, order the latest
Movieguide Magazine by calling 1-800-899-6684(MOVI) or
visit our website at www.movieguide.org.
Movieguide is dedicated to redeeming the values of Hollywood
by informing parents about today's movies and entertainment and
by showing media executives and artists that family-friendly and
even Christian-friendly movies do best at the box office year in
and year out. Movieguide now offers an online subscription
to its magazine version, at www.movieguide.org.
The magazine, which comes out 25 times a year, contains many informative
articles and reviews that help parents train their children to be
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