Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2: Ugly Betty, Blake Lively, and the Other Girls Are Back

Resist if you dare, and for as long as you must, but even the hoariest haters eventually succumbed to the girly, cottony charms of 2005’s Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, if in the privacy of their Netflix queues. I foresee a similar fate for its blandly engaging sequel: moms, daughters, and faux-ironic 20-somethings filling the theaters, the rest of us filling our jammies and DVD players in six months. New director Sanaa Hamri reunites the cast, who keep the more trepidatious viewer’s shame-o-meter in check with genuinely appealing performances. Back are Alexis Bledel and her primly knitted brow; Amber Tamblyn’s delightfully transparent hard-ass rap; America Ferrera’s earnest, wounded mother hen; and Blake Lively’s thoroughbred lope. A year at Ivy League colleges has forged some cracks among the foursome, and the theme of that first painful breach among formative cronies is surprisingly acute, despite the soapy flourishes (multiple false pregnancies, a grandma resurrection, courtly confusions) that its target audience will eat up with a spoon. The conceit of the magical denim conduit quickly fades into the background as the girls—apart now not just for the summer but the foreseeable future—grapple with the implications of losing touch and growing up, and whether those might be the same thing.