The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 is more tolerable than The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants the first. I attribute this slight improvement to the following factors: The four protagonists—wispy, romantic Lena (Alexis Bledel); pragmatic Latina Carmen (America Ferrera); blond, athletic daughter-of-a-suicide Bridget (Blake Lively); and Tibby (Amber Tamblyn), who's sort of goth—are older now, and they no longer feel comfortable chanting solemn oaths while huddled around a pair of magical Levi's. Thank god. Also, director Sanaa Hamri is a woman, unlike Pants 1 director Ken Kwapis, and the girl-bonding scenes feel much less forced.

But the plot of this movie remains a fantasy whipped up for the sole and express pleasure of 16-year-old girls. If the audible weeping and gasps of the preview audience I watched it with are any indication, the filmmakers have their demographic down. Each of our young heroines has, as the movie begins, been admitted into the higher education institution of her dreams: Lena is fiddling with pastels at RISD, Carmen is treading the boards at the Yale School of Drama, Bridget is playing soccer for Brown, and Tibby is getting all urban at NYU. Whenever they encounter naked boys (often), the boys are obscenely ripped. Happy developments tumble forth in nearly every scene: A restless stage manager is tapped to act, a married ex-boyfriend gets his loveless union annulled, and a female mentor is procured from a Turkish archaeological dig. The barrage of wish fulfillment gets quickly absurd.

There is, however, one exception to the screenplay's relentless optimism. Tibby has a massive pregnancy scare when her boyfriend's expired condom breaks—but how is it that Tibby, living in Greenwich Village, has never heard of emergency contraception? It's a gaping plot hole, and a major missed opportunity.