The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)
Additional Footage-Fun On The Set
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Interviews-Cast-Conversation With Anne Brashares-Writer
Deleted Scenes-With Commentary by Director Ken Kwapis
|Year Of Production||2005|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4,5||Directed By||Ken Kwapis|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.30:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
There is a battle going on right now for the hearts and minds of our teen and pre-teen girls. In the red corner is Hilary Duff, all sweetness and light with a can-do spirit. In the blue corner is Lindsay Lohan who brings bad-girl sass and style to the arena. Others such as Anne Hathaway wait patiently for their turn. If there is a unifying factor it is that their films usually trade off their personality with the actual movie they are in assuming secondary importance.
Occasionally, movies like Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants come along which feature no real stars but are grounded in a strong script and earnest performances. It helps that Sisterhood is based on a much-loved book by Anne Brashares but the film could easily have been another in a long line of insipid adaptations. The fact that it isn't is due to the skill of the participants and the respect with which they approach the task of entertaining their audience.
In order to properly assess this film I carried out a test screening with a pair of pre-teen girls. Despite the fact that the film was probably pitched at the 12 to 15 age group they followed and enjoyed the movie. There is no swearing and the one sexual moment was handled very discreetly. In other words, this is a safe movie to get out for a girls sleep-over party.
Sisterhood is the story of four teenage girls on the cusp of womanhood. For the first time since they can remember they face a summer apart. Bridget (Blake Lively) is off to a soccer camp in Mexico. Lena (Alexis Bledal) is going to Greece to visit her relatives. Carmen (America Ferrera) is South Carolina bound in order to spend time with her father who is divorced from her mother and has been distant for some time. The only homebody is Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) who is looking forward to 6 dull weeks working at the local supermarket.
Prior to leaving they take a trip to a clothes store. As if by magic a pair of jeans fit all of the friends, from the tall and slim Bridget to the full-figured Carmen. Seeing it as a sign they make a pact that each will wear the jeans for a week and send it on to the next person so that all can share in the magic.
In fact, the pants are really a symbol of the bonds of friendship and the movie is grounded in reality as each of the friends finds their lives complicated and their spirits tested. Carmen is shocked to learn that her father is getting married and struggles to fit in to their WASP lifestyle. Tibby decides to make a movie of the town and is in turns frustrated and drawn to a young girl with a secret. Bridget gets the hot and heavies for her youthful soccer coach and is trying to make sense of her mother's suicide many years earlier. It has made her reckless and indifferent. The shy Lena meets a nice Greek boy only to find that he is from the family of a sworn enemy.
The film is almost unique amongst teen movies in the way it handles each of these problems with dignity and restraint. The script by romantic comedy alumni Delia Ephron (sister of Nora) and teen movie writer Elizabeth Chandler shows a surprising maturity and refusal to indulge in cheap melodrama. The sad moments, and there are a few, are gently written and the scenes are finely directed by Ken Kwapis, a veteran of TV comedy and some forgettable movies (Dunston Checks In , Beautician and the Beast).
Much credit must go to the girls who are uniformly good in their roles. In particular, Joan of Arcadia star Tamblyn has some tricky scenes to negotiate and does so with style and skill.
As a film Sisterhood has some minor flaws. It is a little long and the dramas each of the girls face are a little too pronounced and obvious. As a teen film, however, it is close to flawless in its ability to speak directly to the heart without talking down to its audience. This is a film not about b****y schoolgirls, which seems the staple of so many teen girl movies, but rather about the strengths and virtues of female friendship. The problems faced by the girls are resolved with different levels of success but each learns to value their friends and appreciate the fine balance of good and bad that makes up our lives. Though clearly not its target audience it is also a film that adults can appreciate without feeling that their brains should be switched off.
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was filmed at an original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and comes to DVD in a 2.30:1 transfer. It is 16x9 enhanced.
It is pleasing to report that the transfer is of high quality. There are no defects to speak of and the look of the film bespeaks high quality.
It is sharp to look at and shadow detail is excellent. Colours are uniformly true and skin tones are authentic.
There is no grain and no artefacts or aliasing. The scenes in Greece, in particular, are beautifully shot (on the island of Santorini) and look so good that in the extra features the girls even admit that they "look fake".
There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired and they give a good account of the dialogue.
All in all a very pleasing transfer that presents the film in its best light.
The sound in Sisterhood is Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s).
The film relies on dialogue for effect and the voices are clear and in sync at all times.
There is a mix of popular songs and an original score and both help to propel the drama and comedy as appropriate. The sound transfer is well mixed with the right balance between dialogue and other sounds.
|Surround Channel Use|
The main menu is animated with a series of images from the movie.
This featurette is a short film comprising some bloopers and fun on set with interviews with the cast and key crew. The girls do a bit of back-slapping and talk about how they became fast friends on set.
This is an interesting featurette. It is the result of Tibby's desire to make a film about her town and the seemingly dull characters who inhabit it. Surtitled "Lives of Quiet Desperation" it is a tribute to Tibby's filming assistant. It also restates the theme of the film which is that life isn't perfect and we must learn to string together the little things to make them count more than the bad stuff.
The trailer is notable for conveying the spirit of the movie without giving away key plot points.
Another interesting feature, this has the girls in a studio talking about selected scenes from the movie. Blake Lively chimes in by mobile phone as she had her flight delayed but the others are in fine form, joking and playing off each other. There is nothing particularly enlightening in the feature but the girls are so balanced and good-natured you can't help but share their rosy view of the project. I was surprised to find out that British Columbia doubled for Mexico for the soccer camp and that the girls were given $50 to spend at a thrift shop to prepare for the scene where they buy the jeans. The girls were clearly at a stage of their careers where that sort of money wasn't less than they just tipped the bellboy!
Brashares is a passionate and engaging speaker and she outlines in this short feature her earnest desire to create a story that didn't talk down to young people. Taking three months off from work she began to write the novel with an idea of a piece of clothing that formed a bond between four girls. The book was a huge success and has spawned two sequels which are yet to be filmed.
The deleted scenes (of which there are 8) are neither long nor spectacular but it is worth recognizing that each is preceded by a title card painted in the style of the movie art which is a nice touch. Kwapis mostly deleted the scenes because of balance as the scenes overstated the point. It was interesting, however, to see the scene in which Bridget has a reconciliation with her distant father. Kwapis deleted it because he felt that it made her problems seem like they could be resolved in one teary scene. His choice was a bold one and it works to instil a sense of truth throughout the movie.
Although the features are clearly designed with the target audience in mind they do not underestimate the intelligence of the audience.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
It seems that the version of Sisterhood that has been released in Region 4 is the same as that released in Region 1. Choose the local release.
A real find amongst a sea of mediocrity, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is highly recommended for anyone in the 9 to 90 category who is of female persuasion (although my 10 year old son sat happily through the second half !). Everything about the movie spells class from the quality transfer of this beautiful looking film to the well considered and presented extras.
|DVD||Onkyo DV-SP300, using Component output|
|Display||NEC PlasmaSync 42" MP4 1024 x 768. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES|
|Speakers||JBL Simply Cinema SCS178 5.1|