Directed by Jason Moore. Produced by Tina Fey and Jay Roach. Written by Paula Pell. Release date: December 18, 2015.
If you’ve watched any of the comedic bits between Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in the past – Saturday Night Live skits, awards show hosting gigs, or Baby Mama – you’ve probably got a pretty good idea of what they’re going to deliver with Sisters, a comedy in which they play – and you’re not going to believe this – sisters. Poheler is the responsible one, Fey is the one who still acts like she’s a teenager, and the film has them throw a party, switch roles for one night, and very little more.
You see, their parents (James Brolin and Dianne Wiest, who also play a married couple in the TV show Life in Pieces) are selling their childhood home. The two women decide to throw one last party before the sale becomes final in order to get Maura (Poehler), to loosen up. Maura’s allowed to go crazy, while Kate (Fey) will stay sober and act like a parent. Somewhere along the way it becomes like a Project X-lite, although with people in their 40s instead of teens. And, of course, there’s an actual plot, jokes, semi-interesting characters, and a point, unlike Project X.
However, there still isn’t a whole lot to Sisters, and it does eventually degenerate into people messing around, ruining the house, and just generally causing trouble. Maura and Kate seem separate from most of the action, as they go through their own subplots, and there’s also a bit of meditation on what it means to get older, but mostly it’s just a bunch of jokes and partying. Most of what works comes directly from Fey and Poehler, who are fantastic, although there are a few scenes where other characters steal the show.
For instance, John Cena plays a drug dealer in Sisters, and his every moment is hilarious. Cena was pretty good in Trainwreck earlier this year, too – at least, when he stuck to comedy – and it might be time for Hollywood to use him more frequently as a comedic actor. Bobby Moynihan gets a few great moments, especially after ingesting enough cocaine to wound – but not kill – Charlie Sheen.
While Sisters is a mess, it’s a fun and funny mess that gives us two more hours of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, which is almost always a good thing.
But this is the Fey and Poehler show, after all, and it’s the chemistry between them, and just their strong comedic timing in general, that keeps Sisters worthwhile. Anyone who’s seen them together in the past know that they’re understand exactly how to generate laughs both when playing off or fighting with each other. While other actors get inconsistent screen time and laughter, Fey and Poehler are the film’s constant, ensuring that, even when everything’s chaotic and not exactly clicking, we’re at least laughing our way through the carnage.
It doesn’t all work. It gets repetitive, it goes off the tracks midway through and never gets back on them, and it’s far too long – it’s 118 minutes, and probably should have only been 90. The “point” gets lost somewhere along the way, there are a lot of jokes that miss, and a subplot involving Maya Rudolph‘s character just doesn’t work, nor does a romance between Maura and James (Ike Barinholtz), which just goes on far too long and accomplishes so very little.
If you’re curious as to what kind of comedy will be found in Sisters, as you should be, it’s primarily of the vulgar variety. The film has an R rating – one that it earns – and as such you’re going to get a lot of various names for genitals, drugs, destruction, and profanity. These types of things are often hit-and-miss in general, and the only reason it works anywhere near as well as it does in Sisters is because of the actors – Fey and Poehler in particular.
While Sisters is a mess, it’s a fun and funny mess that gives us two more hours of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, which is almost always a good thing. The two are so funny and so charming that it’s hard to hate anything they do, even if Sisters loses its way, becomes a generic party movie midway through, and is about a half hour too long for the amount of laughs it contains. Is it funny? Yes, it’s quite funny, assuming you like vulgar and profane comedy. It’s another (moderate) success for Fey and Poehler, even if it feels like a better movie probably could have been made from this premise.
Bottom Line: A funny movie that’s too long, Sisters is a showcase for Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, although not for much else.
Recommendation: Fans of the stars, or vulgar comedies, will want to check out Sisters. The rest of you? It’s probably not worth it.[rating=3]
If you want more of Matthew “Marter” Parkinson, you can follow him on the Twitter @Martertweet and check out his weekly movie podcast.