Nearly everything that made 2005's The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants such refreshing tweener entertainment is missing from the sequel.
Those carefree girls have matured, their puppy crushes replaced with sexier interests and soured relationships. They don't travel to picturesque locales anymore, mostly stuck in American cities and suburbs until a late Grecian fling. Their growing pains are the audience's, too.
Those denim jeans that miraculously fit each girl, keeping them emotionally bound, make only brief appearances. The bric-a-brac mementos added to the fabric with each adventure doesn't play into the story, since home pregnancy kits and nude sketches won't easily attach.
Things get so risque that those traveling pants may need an elastic maternity waistband before long.
Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) thinks she's preggers. When the pants arrive by mail she squeezes into them, hoping a few yoga moves will start her period. Lena (Alexis Bledel) discovers the Greek hunk she landed in Part 1 is now married because he impregnated someone else. Lena's heartache may be healed by Leo (Jesse Williams), an art class model she's impressed with the first time he doffs his robe.
Bridget (Blake Lively) is spending the summer at a Turkish archaeological dig. (Can't we set her up with Indiana Jones' or the Mummy guy's son?) She tumbles into an off-limits pit while chasing a soccer ball and feels lousy about it. Then the lead digger (Shohreh Aghdashloo) consoles her with X-rays of the female corpse inside, a 34-year-old woman. Bridget's mother was 34 when she died, so it doesn't help.
Only Carmen (America Ferrera) is acting her age, working for a theater group staging The Winter's Tale under a tough director (Kyle MacLachlan, who can't do such roles anymore without recalling Showgirls). Carmen is shoved into auditioning for a leading role by the dreamy British star (Tom Wisdom), whose affection for her continues the love-me-for-me theme that helped make Part 1 delightful.
Everyone gets hurt feelings and helpful advice. Nobody seems to be having any fun. Director Sanaa Hamri (Something New) wrings each weepy cliche from Elizabeth Chandler's screenplay, which could have been composed in a slam book. Chandler impressively adapted Part 1 of Ann Brashares' book series, leaving characters seemingly on the cusp of special lives.
Now they've forgotten their pants, lost their passports and watched Juno too many times.
Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at blogs. tampabay.com/movies.