Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for mature material and sensuality.
Profanity:None
Nudity/Sex:Sexual references and non-explicit situations, pregnancy scare, childbirth scene
Alcohol/Drugs:None
Violence/Scariness:Some mild peril, reference to suicide
Diversity Issues:A strength of the movie is its diverse characters and inter-racial friendships and romances
Movie Release Date:August 8, 2008
DVD Release Date:November 18, 2008

When the first five minutes of a film show us a wedding, a graduation, a pregnancy, some kisses, and two grave sites, followed by a reunion scene involving shrieking and hugging, we know we are in for an irresistible saga of friendship through love, loss, risk, and clothes. What older sisters get in Sex and the City and their moms find in Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood and Steel Magnolias, middle and high schoolers find in the “Traveling Pants” movies.
In the first “Traveling Pants” summer, the four BFFs used a magical pair of blue jeans that somehow fit them all perfectly as a sort of proto-Facebook for staying in touch. They sent the pants back and forth, embroidering status updates with mementos from their adventures.
Three years have gone by and now cynical Tibby (“Joan of Arcadia’s” Amber Tamblyn), athlete Bridget (“Gossip Girl’s” Blake Lively), shy Lena (“Gilmore Girls'” Alexis Bledel), and writer Carmen (“Ugly Betty’s” America Ferrara) are all in college, meaning they now have the kind of problems that raise the rating from the PG for the 2005 original to a PG-13.
The pants are about to get some serious mileage. Tibby is in New York, working at a DVD store and trying to finish a screenplay assignment. “Romantic comedy is an oxymoron,” she complains. Lena is in Rhode Island, blushing through a figure drawing class and trying to forget her first love, Costas. That nude male model she is drawing has a great…smile. Bridget has gone on an archeological dig in Turkey where a sympathetic scholar (Shohreh Aghdashloo) reminds her that it is not only the bones and artifacts we study but the people and their stories. And Carmen finds herself unexpectedly cast in a Shakespeare production in Vermont while at home her recently re-married mother is about to have a baby. As they face a pregnancy scare, repair an estranged family relationship and struggle with romance, the girls must find new resolve and confidence in themselves and in their connection to each other.
The real love story that is the heart of the movie is the friendship of the girls. They wonder at times if they are still able to communicate but they are always there for each other when needed. Like the first film, the sequel is refreshingly honest about complicated and messy problems and it avoids tidy resolutions. The girls learn that sometimes even with the best of intentions, people — and life — let us down but that courage, sincere kindness, and friends can help even when they cannot fix what is wrong. Even more appealing is the girls’ endearingly tender support for each other’s differences of personality and interests and the matter-of-fact mix of racial and ethnic pairings. The movie makes it clear that, as Eleanor Roosevelt said, no one can make you feel inadequate without your permission and it is one movie that does not imply that a girl has to have a boyfriend to be successful, happy, or complete.
A character in “Steel Magnolias” summarizes the female friendship genre: “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” The talented young actresses and a quartet of appealing swain make this story’s travels between laughter and tears a journey worth taking.


Parents should know that this film includes sexual references and non-explicit situations, frank discussions of birth control, a pregnancy scare, a non-explicit childbirth scene, some mild peril, and a reference to suicide. A strength of the movie is its diverse characters and inter-racial friendships and romances
Family discussion: What do you think will happen to the traveling pants? Why did Carmen have a hard time believing in herself? What scared Tibby most about Brian? What have you done for your friends to provide support?
If you like this, try: The first movie and the books.



  • jestrfyl

    My college freshman daughter is a great fan of the books. I know she is planning on seeing this movie before she heads back to school. I would go, but I think she would be embarassed to have me there and anyway, I truly cannot handle the squeeling parts. I am envious of the bonds of friendship that these girls forge, even if it is fiction. I think these are great stories for girls of all ages and generations to share.

  • Dustin

    Watching this film (and the 2005 original a few days earlier), I was struck by the similarities between them and “Sex and the City.” The funny thing is, the four central characters in these films are written with more intelligence, maturity and likability than those in the unctuous “Sex in the City” movie, despite being over 20 years younger. Go figure.

  • Dustin

    Watching this film (and the 2005 original a few days earlier), I was struck by the similarities between them and “Sex and the City.” The funny thing is, the four central characters in these films are written with more intelligence, maturity and likability than those in the unctuous “Sex in the City” movie, despite being over 20 years younger. Go figure.

  • Nell Minow

    You are right, Dustin. The girls in this movie are interested in more than clothes and guys. In both cases — along with other “sisterhood” movies like “Steel Magnolias” and “Ya-Ya Sisterhood,” I think the appeal is first the idea of the different characters expressing different aspects of a personality (in a way, all together they make up one integrated whole) and second, as with all idealized love stories equally grounded in truth and fantasy, the idea of unconditional love and support.

  • PJ

    Middle School?
    Too mature for middle schoolers with the sexual references and pregnancy scare. Mature high schoolers perhaps.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, PJ — the references are very mild by comparison with much of what is on broadcast television, including shows very popular with middle schoolers, which is the basis for the age recommendation. But the purpose of my descriptions of the material is to give parents the information they need to make decisions that are right for their families and the age recommendations are only a starting point.

  • Sarah

    i believe that “sisterhood of the traveling pants 2″ is a good movie for middle school girls or young high school students. i admit it is a bit much with the birth scare and the sexual references but still a nice movie

  • Teri

    My oldest daughter will be 12 in two weeks. I would not allow her to see this movie, though I don’t believe she wants to anyway. The previews alone are not appropriate for the Nickelodeon channel (which is where I have seen them), especially when younger children are watching. I feel even some PG movies are pushing it these days. I don’t feel I am old fashioned or strict, but my kids won’t be seeing any move that has ANY sex or references to it.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks so much for your comments, Teri. My reviews are designed to give parents the information they need to help them decide what is right for their families and their values.
    It is more difficult than ever to protect children from inappropriate material. Take a look at chatteringmind’s comment on the “Book for Concerned Parents” post. It is better to respond to it in a forthright and reassuring way than pretend those messages are not out there — not just in the media but from friends who are exposed to everything we protect our kids from.

  • Ellen

    I strongly disagree with Teri’s assessment of the Sisterhood films. Although there are sex references in the context of the film, the material handles the situations in responsible ways that go beyond your average PG-13 film these days- and are presented in a format that can lead to valuable discussion between young women and their parents, if the parent is willing to be open with them about the issues at hand (especially since sexuality should be discussed for concern of health and well being, unlike the constant violence which litters the cinema for teenagers). I applaud the filmmakers for making these films for girls, who may be just under 13 and are the target audience, because too often films geared towards them are crude and sexualized well beyond their years, even with the same rating.

  • Joni

    Hi,
    I have been conservative with the movies I let my children see. If they aren’t 13, they typically don’t see PG 13 movies. However, because my daughter is turning 12 and “Sisters” seems like it should be more about friendship than anything else, and virtually all my child’s friends see PG 13 movies, and because I read your review and believed that the sexual references were mild, I decided to take my daughter to see the movie.
    I don’t know why this movie audience is listed as MS. My daughter is going into 7th grade, and I can’t imagine that any parent would promote their child seeing a sex scene where afterwards the couple talks about how “it” broke, so they have a problem. Is this the norm? Do 12 year olds or Middle Schoolers have sex, and then talk about condoms? Your review implies that the sexual aspects of this film are the norm and should be accepted as the norm. I am sorry for our kids. In addition to this sexual scene, we are immediately faced with an old boyfriend “having to marry a girl he gets pregnant”, and a girl drawing a nude male, and understandably blushing while doing it.
    We left the movie and the theater was kind enough to refund our money. I will switch to another website for my referrals.
    Sincerely,
    Joni

  • Nell Minow

    I really appreciate this feedback, Joni. You may find the information you need at screenit.com, run by my friend Jim Judy. I found the level of material in this movie to be less explicit and more principled than much of what is on broadcast television, which I usually consider the dividing line between what I suggest for middle school vs. high school. I hope middle schoolers do not have sex or draw pictures of nude models. But as they begin to think about what the future has in store for them, it may be appropriate in some cases for them to see stories about older girls who make good and bad choices and deal with the consequences. But I support the judgment of parents on whether their children are ready for this material and I especially support their having the courage to leave the theater and get a refund if they are not satisfied.
    I am sorry you did not feel you got the information you needed from my review. In fairness, I did mention the nude model and caution parents that it included “sexual references and non-explicit situations, frank discussions of birth control, a pregnancy scare, a non-explicit childbirth scene, some mild peril, and a reference to suicide.” I don’t think I implied that the decisions the girls in the movie made were “normal” or wise. What I did say was that the movie was refreshingly honest in portraying life’s complications and not pretending that every problem could be solved, but was reassuring that all problems can be made better through our connections to the people we care about.

  • Brian Shaw

    I agree whole hardily with Joni. If you’re raising your kids to live a pure life style, they don’t need to see explicit situations that are shameful in order to know that you shouldn’t do immoral things. I tell my daughters that they will enjoy sex one day with their husbands but don’t mess up that special moment now. We as parents, are setting standards by what we watch with our kids, which “shows” them where we stand. I don’t care if my kids don’t agree with me about movie selections but they will appreciate it one day.
    It’s a shame that a 2 hour movie is ruined by 5 minutes of trash.
    Brian Shaw
    Murfreesboro, TN

  • Nell Minow

    Brian, I respect your position and Joni’s and that is why I provide the information I do in my reviews — so that parents like you can make informed decisions about the movies your children see. Your children are lucky to have parents who care; I see so many kids in films that are inappropriate to the point of being abusive. As I have said before in responding to other comments, the young adults I interviewed when writing my book all wished their parents had been more protective. Not one thought they should have been able to see movies that their parents prohibited. So I agree that your daughters will appreciate your rules some day. There are some services that remove objectionable material from movies. You might want to check out Clearplay if you have not already. However, this movie has more than five minutes of material of concern, so it would not be a good candidate for that service.

  • Laura

    I just want to say how much I appreciate the polite discourse about this movie. Obviously parents disagree with each other and with Nell’s review, but how refreshing it is to see respectfully worded comments and responses. The underlying assumption seems to be that if you are reading the review and posts at all, you are a parent who cares about what your kids watch–surely we can find some common ground there! Thanks, everyone.

  • Nell Minow

    Thank you, Laura! It means a lot to me to create a place where people can express their disagreements with both candor and respect and I feel very lucky that people on this site realize that all of us share the common goal of doing what is best to teach our children about the world in a way that keeps them feeling both safe and curious. I am very glad you wrote and hope you will return often to let us know what you think about the movies you see.

  • susie

    who is the grave of the 12 year old

  • Nell Minow

    Hi, Susie — if you saw the first film you know that it is Bailey, the character played by Jenna Boyd. Thanks for writing!

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