The movie centers around four teenage girls: Lena Kaligaris, Tabitha "Tibby" Tomko-Rollins, Bridget Vreeland, and Carmen Lowell. They are best friends and have been together all their lives in Bethesda, Maryland, but are about to separate for the summer. Lena is spending the summer in Greece with her grandparents; Tibby is staying at home; Bridget is going to soccer camp; and Carmen is visiting her father in South Carolina. On the eve of their separation, the girls visit a thrift shop and find a pair of pants that magically fits all four of them perfectly, although they have different measurements. The girls decide to share the pants among them equally over the summer as a way of keeping together when they are apart.
Lena, Tibby, Bridget, and Carmen part the next day, and the movie focuses on each girl separately.
One day in Greece, Lena is sitting at the dock, drawing (while wearing the traveling pants) when she accidentally falls in the water, and the leg of the pants gets caught on something. A young man swims over and sets her free, later introducing himself as Kostos, a Greek-American like her. A couple of days later, Lena learns from her grandparents that her family and Kostos' family are sworn enemies stemming from an old family feud. Despite this, Kostos continues to pursue Lena, and the two develop feelings for each other. At first, Lena is afraid to let herself love Kostos, but eventually begins to open up, sharing rides on his motorbike through the town, until they are spotted together, and Lena's relatives ask her to break up with Kostos.
The climax of the relationship comes one Saturday night close to the end of the summer, right before Kostos is about to leave town to return to Athens University. Kostos and Lena attend a party, and while they are dancing, Kostos tells Lena that he loves her. Before Lena can answer, Lena's family barges in, angrily pulling Lena away. Lena later confronts her grandfather and asks to go see Kostos before he leaves, which her grandfather agrees, Lena goes to the dock and calls out to Kostos, who gets off his ship. Kostos and Lena share a passionate kiss, and Lena confesses her love for him.
While on the job in Wallman's department store, Tibby hears a loud crashing sound, and finds a young girl who has fainted in the aisle. She frantically calls for help, and the girl is taken away in an ambulance. Later, when Lena from Greece mails the magical Pants to Tibby, they are delivered to the wrong house, and someone comes to Tibby's house to deliver them - coincidentally, Bailey Graffman, the girl who had fainted at Wallman's.
Fascinated by Tibby's movie, or "suckumentary", and her movie making, Bailey becomes Tibby's self-appointed assistant. Tibby is annoyed by this at first, but gradually grows to accept Bailey. She later learns from Bailey's neighbor that Bailey has leukemia.
Bailey eventually goes to the hospital with a bad infection. Tibby avoids the hospital for a while, but eventually visits Bailey, bringing the Traveling Pants. She offers them to Bailey and pleads with her to take them so that they can help her. Bailey responds by saying that the Pants have already worked their magic on Bailey by bringing her and Tibby together. After Tibby leaves, Tibby's home receives a phone call, saying that Bailey has died.
Tibby later decides to call her movie Bailey.
When Carmen comes back home from South Carolina, Tibby visits her to try and help her with her feelings of being snubbed by her father. Tibby later goes to Bridget's house along with Carmen in order to bring Bridget out of her depression.
Over the course of the movie, Tibby undergoes dramatic changes in outlook due to her time with Bailey.
Shortly after arriving at soccer camp in Mexico, Bridget notices one of the coaches, Eric Richman, and inquires about him, to which the surrounding girls respond that flings with the coaches are against the rules. This information does not dissuade Bridget, as she immediately becomes single-minded in achieving what she wants: a relationship with Eric. She flirts with him and try im impress him in all kind of ways like showing of in soccer games and talking to eric all the time When Bridget's turn with the Traveling Pants finally comes, she puts them on that night and walks around outside Eric's cabin, leading him to the beach. The two begin kissing passionately and Bridget loses her virginity. The event leaves Bridget feeling empty and listless, and she remains that way for the rest of her time at soccer camp, as well as part of her time home. She is also dealing with the after-effects of her mother's depression and subsequent suicide, and always tries to prove that she is different. She is lifted from her depression by Carmen and Tibby, who come over to cheer her up after a concerned phone call from Lena. The next day, Bridget's dog Maggie runs off with the Traveling Pants, and Bridget follows her to get them back, only to run into Eric, who has come to visit on his way home. He apologizes to Bridget for what happened between them, and the two agree to be friends. However, Eric lets her know that she should give him a shot when she is 20, likely a huge soccer star in some college team, and all the guys are after her. He said that he wanted to have a chance with her so they could go out again.
Carmen, who has been raised in Maryland by her Puerto Rican single mother, arrives on a summer visit to her Anglo father's house in an attractive suburb of Charleston, South Carolina, and is startled when he informs her he is planning a marriage to Lydia, a blonde divorcee with a teenage son and daughter. Carmen is disappointed at not having her father to herself and confused as to why he hadn't told her of his situation before, but she firmly insists on the phone to her mother that she is not mad at him, and that everything will be fine.
Over the summer, Carmen's frustration and resentment build up, eventually exploding when Carmen throws a rock through the window while her father, Lydia, and Lydia's children, Krista and Paul, are eating dinner. Carmen runs away and catches a bus back to Maryland. It takes her awhile to admit to herself that she is mad at her father, but she eventually does, calling him to tell him so and asking him what she did wrong and why he had left her mother years before.
Carmen later receives a phone call from Lena, who has just read one of Bridget's letters and is concerned about her. Carmen and Tibby go to Bridget's house to comfort her. Later, Lena, Bridget, and Tibby all drag Carmen to her father's wedding. Carmen is extremely reluctant to go at first, but does so with the help of her friends and the Traveling Pants. At the wedding ceremony which is outdoors, Carmen's father apologizes to her in front of all the guests.
Differences between the Film and the NovelEdit
In the bookEdit
- The girls are all fifteen at the beginning and turn sixteen at the end of the summer. In the movie, the girls begin the summer at sixteen (As in the book, Bridget lies about her age to the coach, saying she is 17).
- Lena is the oldest; in the movie, Bridget is older.
- Lena has a younger sister named Effie, who is one year Lena's junior, but she doesn't appear until the upcoming movie.
- Bridget has a twin brother. In the movie, she does not.
- Carmen lives in an apartment. In the movie, she lives in a house.
- Lena has straight hair and green eyes. In the movie, her hair is wavy and her eyes are blue.
- It is stated that Bridget's mother died while the girls were eleven years old. In the movie, it is implied that she died fairly recently by committing suicide. In both the book and movie, it basically says that she was depressed. In sequels to the book, it is revealed that she committed suicide by injecting herself with an unknown substance.
- There is a babysitter named Loretta who looks after Tibby's two siblings, Katherine and Nicky. The task is left to Tibby in the movie.
- Bailey and her mother call Tibby and ask that she come visit Bailey in the hospital. In the movie, Tibby receives phone calls while she mopes about Bailey's inevitable death, but does not answer them.
- In the third book, we see that Tibby has been a vegetarian since the age of nine. In the movie, Tibby eats pepperoni pizza.
- Lena first meets Kostos at her grandparent's house, not by nearly drowning.
- In the book and the movie, it is left up to the audience to determine if Bridget and Eric had sex. However, in the book, Eric tries to smooth things over by talking to Bridget but she is too hurt and falls into a state of depression evident in the second book. But the pair eventually reconcile at the end of the third book. In the movie, Eric goes to Maryland to apologize to Bridget.-
- Lena's Valia has no problem with Kostos. In fact, it is Valia that tries to hook Kostos up with Lena. Kostos and Bapi are also very close.
- Paul has a girlfriend named Kelly Marquette, whom Carmen dubs Skeletor. They later break up. She is not mentioned in the movie.
- It is the death of Lydia's mother that prevents her from having an official wedding, not her father.
- Lena called her grandmother 'Valia'. In the movie, she called her 'Yia Yia'. She also called her grandfather "Papou", when in the book, he is called Bapi.(Yia Yia and Papou actually mean grandmother and grandfather in Greek.)
- Effie goes with Lena to Greece, while in the movie Lena goes alone and Effie is never mentioned.The pants are discovered by Carmen who was out with Lena, and lena's mother and sister, Effie, while shopping for Effie's prom dress. the pants are not tried on by every girl until after the purchase. In the movie, all four girls are out shopping and purchase the pants together after each trying them on.-The book said bridget's mom died at christmas time. This is not mentioned in the movie. Also,unlike the movie, the book does not say that the other girls' mom attended the funeral. it was made known that the women did not stay friends.
- Carmen describes them as being one complete person "bridget the athelete, lena the beauty, tibby the rebel, and carmen the...what?" this is described differently in the movie.
- In the book, it nowhere describes Tibby as having blue streaks in her hair. No birthdays were celebrated in the movie, even though the book states they all have summer birthdays.
- In the book, Tibby has a pet guinea pig named Mimi, who later dies. In the movie, Mimi is mentioned only briefly -- and her death is not part of the plot.
- In the book, Bridget does not own a dog. In the movie, she does. -In the movie, Eric's hair is blond. In the book, it states that Eric's hair is dark and wavy, that he has dark skin, and that he is half Mexican. -In the movie, it was Bailey's neighbor who told Tibby about Bailey's disease. In the book, it was Bailey's mom who told her. -In the book, Bailey meets Tibby for the first time after her accident when Tibby visits her at home. In the movie, Bailey is the one to visit Tibby at Tibby's home. There is no mix-up with the pants being delivered to the wrong address in the book. It does not say in the book that Bailey and Tibby live on the same street.
In the FilmEdit
- Kostos helps out his grandfather by fishing. In the book, he works as a welder.
- The girls break into Gilda's by climbing a ladder and going through a window. In the book, they use bobby pins to pick a lock and proceed to the second floor.
- It is Lena's grandmother that discovers her drawings of Kostos. In the book, it is Effie.
- The rules of the pants are decreed verbally. In the book, they are recorded on stolen stationery.
- In the movie, Tibby has no love interests. In the book, her fancy temporarily focuses on Tucker Rowe, whom she believes to be "hot." Later on, Bailey convinces her that it is Brian McBrian who is worthwhile, not Tucker. In the end of the movie, we see Tibby and Brian standing together outside the store, which implies that they are friends now.
- It is only Carmen who cries on the phone while confronting her father. In the book, both of them cry. In the movie, Tibby is present; in the book, she is not mentioned as being there. At her father's wedding in the book, Carmen dresses up, though still with the pants on. In the movie, her attire is much more casual.
- Carmen is accompanied by her three friends at the wedding. In the book, she goes alone.
- Carmen is a bridesmaid at the wedding. In the book, she sits in a pew, making meaningful eye contact with her father.
- In the movie, Carmen meets Lydia and her kids in front of the house. In the book, they meet inside the house, where Krista kisses Carmen's cheek and Paul shakes her hand.
- Bridget first tells Eric that she is seventeen. In the book, she first tells him that she is sixteen.
- It is Tibby who hears that Carmen is angry with her father. In the book, it is Carmen's mother.
- Lena's Bapi confronts Kostos for dating Lena. In the book, it is Kostos' grandfather that is assaulted by Bapi.
- Lena and Kostos date for much of the summer. In the book, despite their feelings for each other, Lena and Kostos only get together at the end of the summer, shortly before Lena returns to the U.S.
- It seems that Krista holds Carmen in contempt. In the book, Krista actually becomes fascinated with her, later to the point of emulation (as seen in the book sequel, The Second Summer of the Sisterhood).
- Paul is nowhere to be seen while Carmen is getting fitted for a dress for her father's wedding. In the book, he says something to her as she leaves.
- Carmen's dad is the one who answers the phone to hear Carmen's tirade about being abandoned. In the book, it is Lydia who answers; she hands the phone to Carmen's father.
- Bailey is awake when Tibby visits her in the hospital. In the book, she is asleep. Once Tibby goes home in the movie, Bailey dies. In the book, Tibby is consistently visiting her.
- Bridget has a large home. In the book, it is said that it is rather small and run-down.
- Carmen and Tibby come to visit Bridget in the movie and Bridget eventually gets better. In the book(s), it takes Bridget about a year to heal from Eric.
- Bridget invokes a rule #11. In the book the 10 original rules stay the same.
- Bridget states a #11 rule. In one of the books, it is Lena who, to herself, figures that there is an unstated #11 rule.
- Lena finds Bridget's letter about Eric under her bed and sends Tibby and Carmen to comfort her. In the book, Lena finds the letter,that is sent from Bridget, changes her flight home from Greece, and flies to Mexico to meet Bridget at camp.
- Tibby finds the tape of Bailey after she dies, in the book, she and Bailey purposely tape the video.
- Lena has the forbidden love. In the book, the grandparents WANT her to like the guy, Kostos.
- Brian is Asian. Nowhere in the book is this detail mentioned.
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