Thursday, May 23, 2019

Jean Therapy

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Director: Ken Kwapis
Cast: America Ferrera, Blake Lively, Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel, Bradley Whitford,
Released: June 1, 2005

I have never read the book this movie is based on, but I would be curious to check it out (literally as I would most likely get it from the library) as I am not beneath reading young adult fiction. Maybe on my next trip to the library I will get it, though that will be awhile as I currently have seven books checked out.

This movie is about four high school-aged friends who will be spending their summer apart and they stay connected with each other through a pair of jeans that just happens to fit all of them perfectly. The four friends are Carmen (a pre-Ugly Betty America Ferrera) who seems to be the main character as she narrates the film (though they really all pretty much share equal screen time); Bridget (a pre-Gossip Girl Blake Lively) who is sporty, outgoing, boy crazy, and seems to be the leader of the group as she is the oldest (only by a week, though, we'll find out); Tibby (a currently on Joan of Arcadia at the time (this was the only show from the four main actresses that I never watched) Amber Tamblyn) who, despite being sullen and sarcastic most of the times, has a good heart; and Lena (a currently on Gilmore Girls at the time Alexis Bledel) who is the quiet and sensitive one of the group and likes to sketch.

We learn that the four girls have been friends since birth because all their mothers met in a pre-natal aerobics class (I know; I'm rolling my eyes too) and they were all born within the same week. I know, it's absolutely absurd. The way they "met" is way too cutesy. Why couldn't they just have met in middle school and still be friends as sophomores/juniors in high school? There, it's simple and not overly ridiculous. I assume the book goes into more detail about their friendship when they were younger, but the movie just sort of skims over important details that happened before their summer of separation (not that I'm complaining or anything; if anything, I appreciate it!) like Carmen's dad leaving his family and Bridget's mom dying.

During that summer, Carmen will be visiting her dad in Charleston, South Carolina (I've been there!); Lean will be visiting her grandparents in Greece (I have not been there!); Bridget will be attending soccer camp in Baja, Mexico (never been there either!); and Tibby will be staying put in their hometown of Bethesda, Maryland (I've been to many places in Maryland including Baltimore and Annapolis, but I have never been to Bethesda) where she works at Wall-Mans, an obvious knock-off of Wal-Mart.

The girls are in a boutique the day before they are to go their separate ways and find a seemingly normal pair of jeans which Carmen encourages Tibby to try on. When she does, Lena gushes how great they look on her (seriously, they're just a pair of jeans, I have never in my life seen anyone get so excited over a pair of jeans) and Tibby tells her to try on the jeans since she loves them so much. Even though Lena prefers skirts or linen pants to jeans, she does and they fit her perfectly too. Now these two girls are pretty much built the same, so it's not really a huge stretch that the jeans would fit both of them. Then Bridget, who is easily two to three inches taller than everyone else decides to try on the pants, and, guess what? They fit her like a glove! Please! Those pants should have looked like capris on her! The girls are all amazed by this and persuade the curvaceous Carmen to try them on, and, of course she's skeptical, but even though she does have a bit of trouble getting into the at first, they fit her perfectly as well. Yes, you could say this movie has a touch of magical realism to it. The girls take this as a sign and buy the pants which they decide they will all share during the summer, with each one having a week to "own" the pants before they ship it to the next girl. They make up rules such as they aren't allowed to wash the pants (as they believe that will make it lose its magical powers) and they aren't allowed to wear a shirt tucked into the jeans (who even wears their shirts tucked into their jeans? Reveal yourselves!). The last rule is pants = love. Love your sisters, love yourself. Awww. They decide that Lena will be the first to be in possession of the jeans since she will be the furthest away.

I think we can all agree that Alexis Bledel got the best storyline of the movie as she got to film in the beautiful Greek isles (can you imagine if that was actually all filmed on a Hollywood sound stage with backdrops?) and gets the best wardrobe with these beautiful linen tops and pants and skirts and dresses. One day, while she is sketching (and wearing the jeans) on a dock, she sees a cute boy on a boat and to get a better look, tips the chair she's sitting in until she falls into the water and the pants catch on a chain and she is unable to free herself. Hmm, those pants might not be so lucky after all! Fortunately, the cute boy saw what happened and dives in to rescue her. On second thought, maybe those are lucky pants; that is sure one way to get a boy's attention! Lena finds out his name is Kostas and he is fluent in English because he lived in Chicago with his parents until he was 12, then moved back to Greece to live with his grandparents when his parents died in a car accident. He is here to help them out during the summer, but attends the university in Athens. When Lena reveals to her grandmother about the boy she met, her grandmother is furious, telling her she must not engage in any socializing with him as their family and the boy's family are in some feud over money or something. Apparently one's grandfather sold the other's grandfather fish that made his restaurant patrons sick. We have a little bit of the Montagues and Capulets going on here. Of course this is very old-fashioned thinking and the grandmother is being quite ridiculous as this so-called feud goes back decades and neither Lena nor Kostas have anything to do with it (since it began even before they were born!) They begin to see each other in secret until her grandmother finds out and makes a big fuss over it, but then her husband, Lena's grandfather, makes her come to her senses and they allow Lena to see Kostas even though this will be just a summer fling as they live on two different continents.

Since Lena likes to sketch, she ends up sketching Kostas and one of the sketches is of him laying in her bed with his shirt off (but he has pants on). Ooh! Scandalous! Nevertheless, I still wouldn't want my grandmother finding that which is what happens to Lena. Seeing those sketches reminded me of that scene in Titanic. ("Lena, I want you to draw me like one of your Greek boys.")

Bridget probably has my least favorite storyline. She is disappointed the soccer camp she is going to is an all-girls camp, but luckily for her she finds a college-aged coach she starts flirting with. First of all, this guy isn't that cute. I mean, he's okay looking if you like bland, but he's no Ryan Reynolds. And second of all, why did they cast someone who looks like he could play Blake Lively's older brother as they both share the same sun-kissed flowing blond hair? She seems to go after him because he's the only guy (within her age) around and she reeks of desperation as she tries to get his attention. But since she looks like Blake Lively, he is into her and they have sex (off screen and he did try to hold back for as long as he could because he knew it was wrong for coaches to hook up with the players!) and she feels like she may have made a mistake, but then he apologizes to her and tells her that they can still be friends and that she should give him a shot when she's 20. Ugh. We learn that Bridget has this reckless behavior because her mother committed suicide. Why did she kill herself? I'm not sure, but I assume we learn why in the book. Is there such a thing as suicide shaming? Because they totally shamed this woman for committing suicide. The priest at her funeral says, "It only makes her choice that much more unfathomable. What measure of despair compels one to commit such an act?" Well, obviously she needed help and was unable to get said help.

Speaking of death, Tibby meets a twelve-year-old girl named Bailey who has leukemia. She first comes in contact with her when she finds the girl has become unconscious at the drug store she works  at and an ambulance picks her up. She later properly meets her when Bailey comes to her house with the pants. They were accidentally sent to her house because they live in the same neighborhood and have similar house numbers, so the pants bring them together as Bailey will later point out. Tibby doesn't find out she has leukemia until Bailey's neighbor tells her. When she starts treating her differently (i.e. more nicer), Bailey knows she knows because she used to treat her like an annoying kid sister. Tibby is working on a documentary which Bailey helps her with as her assistant. This has to be the most boring documentary ever because it's about working at the drugstore. But, spoiler alert, it will end up being something completely different.

I always assumed it was Stranger Things that brought the '80s video game Dragon's Lair back into the pop culture conscience, but this movie actually has a scene of a kid playing it (at a gas station, no less) and Bailey thinks he would make a good subject for Tibby's film.

Of course, Bailey dies (off screen) and it is a very sad scene when Tibby goes to visit her in the hospital for the last time. She brings the pair of jeans because she believes their power will help her get better, but Bailey tells her the pants already did their magic which was they brought them together.

Carmen's dad (played by Bradley Whitford) drops a bombshell on her when he introduces her to Lydia (Nancy Travis), the woman he is to marry and her two (very blond!) kids, Paul and Krista. Carmen is hurt that her dad never told her about his upcoming nuptials or the fact that he was engaged to someone. She feels like he loves his new family more than he loves her and feels very left out. It's very weird how he met his future new wife: apparently he called the wrong number (hers) and ended up asking her out. I mean, who does this? Not Josh Lyman! Josh Lyman would never do that!

Just a small note: I have been to Charleston in the summer and you do not want to wear jeans in Charleston in the summer! Way too humid for denim!

She ends up going back home early, not intending to attend the wedding. She does eventually call her dad and pours her heart out to him, telling him she's angry with him for not telling her about his new family and how she feels like an outsider. It's a very heartbreaking scene. America Ferrera and Amber Tamblyn definitely get the heavy-hitting storylines. So does Blake Lively, I guess, with her dead mom storyline.

When Carmen, Bridget, and Tibby pick Lena up from the airport, the girls have a surprise for Carmen which is that they're driving to Charleston to attend her dad's wedding. Carmen protests, saying she has nothing to wear and ends up wearing the magical jeans. In the end, her dad will stop the wedding before it even starts when he sees Carmen sitting in the audience and tells his new wife that there's a member of their family that should be up there with them.

The worst thing about this movie is easily the music. Oh my God, the music is horrible. Music from the mid 2000s was just the worst, especially from 2003-2006. Now to be fair, the only song I recognized from this movie was the super popular "Unwritten" from Natasha Bedingfield, which I admit, is a catchy tune, but it is also the theme song to the sucky show on MTV with Lauren Conrad. (The Hills?) So therefore, it sucks by that association. "Pocketful of Sunshine" is a much better song, anyway. The other songs I didn't know, but they were SOOOOOOOOO bad. There were a lot of sappy stupid songs that played, like when Lena and Kostas kiss for the first time. My eyes nearly got stuck in the back of my head.

I guess all four actresses are still friends in real life which is super cute and there's going to be a third movie. The second movie came out in 2008, so it's been over a decade since they made a movie. Here's a photo of them that was taken last year, I believe:

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