For those just tuning in, The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants is a popular young-adult book series written by Ann Brashares about four friends who bond over a pair of jeans that magically fits all of them. Being part of the sisterhood involves rotating the pants to the next person in line on a weekly basis each summer. But apart from their pliability, the pants don't seem that magical. In 2005's The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants and this sequel (largely taken from the series' fourth book), they essentially play the same role as Dumbo's feather, instilling confidence in girls navigating a world that isn't exactly designed to build them up.
As before, Pants 2 is essentially four films in one, each starring one of the leads. And for viewers who have already learned the obvious lessons—believing in themselves, following their hearts, etc. etc.—the stories have limited interest. Video veteran Sanaa Hamri directs with smooth competence, and the leads all go pleasantly through their paces, but there are no surprises.
Well, maybe one. Where America Ferrera stood out in the first Pants movie, here the best moments belong to Amber Tamblyn, whose character has become a boho film student and spends the summer worrying about a pregnancy scare, then about her inability to maintain a relationship. Tamblyn nicely balances a confidently funky exterior with an inner life filled with doubt, capturing the moment when the safety net of childhood disappears for good. In a movie that's largely about transitions, she seems the most likely to join Ferrera in moving on to more grown-up roles. The rest of the movie is never less than pleasantly forgettable, in a boxed-macaroni kind of way. Alexis Bledel's storyline, concerning the long-term viability of the first film's summer romance, is a bit of a dud, but Ferrera has fun playing a character discovering acting thanks to Shakespeare and an eccentric teacher (Kyle MacLachlan, also having fun). Meanwhile, Gossip Girl's Blake Lively is saddled with a soppy story that reunites her with an overacting Blythe Danner as her Southern-belle grandmother. The film ends by closing the door on future sequels, which is probably fine. Everyone here looks like they've learned their lesson and can now move on.