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'Traveling Pants' take off again
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 While not quite as good as the first film, "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" still has its merits, especially if you enjoy high-drama, pregnancy scares and nude male models.

Based on the second, third and fourth books of the young adult series by Ann Brashares, the sequel to the surprisingly enjoyable 2005 film joins the four friends, Carmen (America Ferrera, "Ugly Betty"), Lena (Alexis Bledel, "Gilmore Girls"), Bridget (Blake Lively, "Gossip Girl") and Tibby (Amber Tamblyn, "Joan of Arcadia") after their first year of college, when they are once again getting ready for a summer apart.

After learning that Kostas (Michael Rady, "Swingtown"), her former flame, is married and expecting his first child, Lena withdraws into herself and away from her friends, enrolling in a summer figure-drawing class where she befriends one of the male models, Leo, played by Jesse Williams. After losing her virginity to her longtime boyfriend, Tibby has a pregnancy scare and as a result withdraws from her friends

Carmen agrees at the last minute to go to Vermont with a college friend to take part in a theater internship after her feelings are hurt when she learns that her friends have made summer plans without her. And Bridget, still left with feelings of abandonment after her mother's death decides to spend the summer in Turkey where she takes part in an archeological dig.

All four actresses are strong in their roles but it is Ferrera as Carmen that really shines. As the most emotionally-intuitive member of the foursome, Carmen's storyline of learning to like herself again after an uncertain first year at Yale has the strongest ring of authenticity to it.

Unlike the first film, which was best during the Carmen and Tibby storylines, the second movie doesn't really have the same resonating elements such as the feelings of suppressed anger for an absent father that Carmen experienced or the bereavement Tibby went through when a friend died from leukemia.

Tibby, who is portrayed as the strong, street-wise one, seems to have regressed emotionally the most since the first movie, which is somewhat disappointing, though it does provide her character with plenty of angst-ridden material.

Though none of the storylines are particularly unique, especially in the coming-of-age movie genre, the strong source material that the books bring to the movie, makes "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" worth a watch, especially when one surveys the landscape of bleak superhero films and raunchy frat-boy comedies that those of the more delicate persuasion have to choose from these days.

Director Sanaa Hamri ("Something New") isn't quite able to bottle the teenage girl magic the way Ken Kwapis was able to in the first film, but she does make a good go of it. What does come through the second time around is the importance of female friendships, something which women of all ages can appreciate.



 "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" is rated PG-13 for mature material and sensuality and has a running time of 1 hour and 57 minutes.