*½/**** Image A- Sound B Extras B-
starring Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera, Blake Lively, Alexis Bledel
screenplay by Delia Ephron and Elizebth Chandler, based on the novel by Ann Brashares
directed by Ken Kwapis
by Walter Chaw The quartet of best pals portrayed in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants are, we're told, complementary parts of one consciousness, which goes some way towards explaining why it is that individually they seem like machine-tooled fonts of tween didacticism. They're Judy Blume-spawned pods: the fat, brassy one with speeches about the importance of being fat and brassy; the slut with mother issues and speeches about regret; the frigid one who lightens up; and the morose one who learns to set aside her barbed irony at the expense of a disease-of-the-week urchin with a message of her own. Although the whole thing's too long as it is, there's barely enough room in the picture for each of the girls to have a complete narrative arc, and so we're given preachy shorthand speechifying in lieu of character complexity. It's a TIGER BEAT quiz about puberty and it's astonishingly irritating, even if you can spot glimmers of truth in there amid the weeping and screeching.