Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Recommended with caution. This is a young chick flick about four girlfriends in high school spending the summer in different parts of the world and how they mail a pair of pants to each other as a ritual of connection with some hope that it will bring magic into their lives. And of course, they do. I liked this movie for several reasons. One, it was a young teen movie that involved coming of age, yet it dealt with serious issues of life that I am convinced young people can deal with, but avoid it by filling their silence with media that numbs their souls. And this movie, like A Walk to Remember, proves you can make an entertaining movie for teens with meaningfulness in it. Second, I liked it for it’s very unusual truthful dealing with sex, while not exploiting it. One of the girls, who is an overachiever sets her sights on a camp counselor at Soccer Camp and finally gets him to sleep with her, and believe it or not, she actually responds with the truth rather than the typical lie of teens and sex. She tells her friends, “How can something that is supposed to make you so complete, make you feel so empty?” She regrets it cause she realizes she is too young for sex and this was not the appropriate relationship for it. She says, “I wanted it for all the wrong reasons. And everything I was running from just caught up with me that much sooner.” While the story does not stress marriage (a real lack), the context still shows that kids are not ready for the kind of intimacy and responsibility that sex brings. I was amazed and pleased. Another girl visits her grandma in Greece and has to overcome family prejudice based on family feuds when she falls in “love” with a young college kid from the “enemy family,” a Romeo and Juliet story, with a happy ending of the Grandpa learning to forgive and overcome his own prejudice. The down side of this story was that it did breed a foolish fantasy of a 17-year old having a relationship with a college aged kid, which in a very real way contradicted the previous story about the girl realizing she was too young. Thus, according to these storytellers, some girls are mature enough to have a relationship with older men. Well, I can tell you that sure fulfills the fantasy of a lot of “men,” but it does not help the plight of girls who must realize that they know nothing about love at that age. It would be more appropriate to say they are in “lust” or are in infatuation. Another great story was the cynical artist filmmaker who is stuck in the home town for the summer working at the local Wallman’s. So she decides to make a “suckumentary” about the boringness of mundane existence. She ends up befriending a young ten year old who is dying of leukemia, who helps this girl realize that the little things in life are beautiful and important, she just has to see that through the eyes of death. This young girl with so little time left likes looking up in the sky and wondering, “There’s got to be something more to life.” This makes the cynic melt with realization of her own cynical foolish blindness and she has her eyes opened to search for meaning in her life. The downside of this movie is that the cynic learns from the little girl the classic existentialist line, “it’s the little things strung together that have meaning. Maybe we just get through it and that’s all we can ask for.” Well, seems to me a wasted pondering of the meaning of life, but it’s on the right track, just doesn’t meet the finish line. Another story was of a Puerto Rican girl trying to reconnect with her divorced white father, who is trying to build a new blonde Anglo Saxon family in the suburbs – without her. A very touching story about family belonging and the lack of it in so many of our lives. Her redemption lies in finally expressing to her father her anger with him, yet, then forgiving him and going to his new wedding. Very redemptive and positive. The girls all experience deaths in some way, the death of innocence, death of family, death of a loved one, and for that reason, it is a very thoughtful film that moved me. Unfortunately, the worldview was rather humanistic in crying out for faith in something, anything, but God. The girls say, “I’d like to say it was fate, that summer. The pants knew we needed faith. Something to believe in.” And of course concludes, that something is not personal, not loving, and transcendent, namely the living God, but rather an arbitrary faith in fate or nothingness masquerading as something. Rather the narrator concludes her lesson: “Love your sisters and love yourself,” a rather meaningless 80s fashionable narcissism without much content. But I think the movie is one that also makes you evaluate your life and what is really important in it, and what growing up really is about: responsibility, facing your mortality and forgiveness.

2 comments on “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

  • Many thanks for your especially enlightening post, we all could make use of more personal blogs such as this on the internet. Would you expand a little more about your second paragraph please? I am a small bit baffled as well as undecided whether or not I understand your idea totally. Many thanks.

    • Brian_Godawa says:

      I am not sure what you mean by second paragraph Denny. This was written at a time when I was writing stream of conscious style so i did not have paragraphs. So I don’t know what you are referring to.

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