The bar for teen melodramas may be set very, very low, but by any benchmark, this multi-character summer-vacation saga is a warm, winning, unusually savvy pubescent-chick flick anchored by four talented young actresses. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants takes a potentially saccharine premise -- four best friends make a summer pact to keep in touch via a pair of jeans that magically fits each of them -- and leavens it with healthy doses of humor, wit, and realism. Director Ken Kwapis may not exactly break the mold, but he has a deft sense of pacing and setting that keeps each of the girls' four summer adventures distinctly her own. Better still, he realizes that in order to keep his audience equally interested in each storyline, he needs to create a palpable camaraderie among the foursome at the beginning of the film; it's rare to see a girl-buddy movie where the girls in question actually seem like well-matched friends. The movie strays into mawkish "life lessons" territory near its (overlong) ending, but even here, the performers -- in particular the natural, unforced America Ferrera -- save the movie from any potential histrionics. And while this PG-rated Sisterhood isn't afraid to confront such issues as divorce, death, and sexual curiosity, it does so subtly, in a manner that won't necessarily raise the eyebrows of any preteens in the audience.
by Michael Hastings review