Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Fans of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey won't be disappointed with Sisters, a worthy pairing of the talented SNL alumni that places the comedic duo in a situation ripe for laughs.

Director: Jason Moore
Starring: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Ike Barinholtz, Maya Rudolph

Poehler plays Maura, a responsible, cheery, people-pleasing do-gooder who spent her childhood making sure everyone else was having fun while she rarely had any herself. Fey plays Kate, Maura's wildly irresponsible older sister who grew up drinking, partying, and making out. When the two find out that their parents are selling their childhood home, they return to Orlando to pack up their old bedrooms. Kate is a disaster, homeless and jobless and not impressing her teenage daughter, who bails to go live with a friend for the summer. Maura, who's been divorced for a couple of years, isn't doing all that great either, and so to cheer themselves up, they decide to throw one last party at the house, inviting all the high school classmates they haven't seen in years. Kate promises to be the "party mom" for once so Maura can finally let loose and try to hook up with a hot guy (Ike Barinholtz) who lives down the street. As you might expect, the party gets out of control and the sisters' relationship hangs in the balance as things continue to escalate.

There's a strong supporting cast on display here, including Maya Rudolph as a snotty, grown up mean girl from the sisters' class that looks down on them, and John Leguizamo, who perfectly captures the essence of the sort of pervy guy who's never gotten out of his hometown. Barinholtz does good work playing a normal dude (a far cry from his spastic but lovable loser character Morgan on The Mindy Project), and Bobby Moynihan has a bunch of huge, drugged out moments that, for me, actually alternated between being hilarious and tiresome. The film has a ton of recognizable archetypes — the theater nerd who never hit the big time, the couple with a stale marriage, the kind of sad woman coming to grips with her age — but they often aren't quite fleshed out enough to feel like more than just stock characters. (In the press conference, writer Paula Pell said that there were initially full arcs for each of the side characters, but much of that footage ended up being edited out.) 

The film does a good job of capturing a specific kind of vibe for people who are of a certain age. I imagine it won't play as well to a teenage crowd, but for anyone who has moved away from their hometown, gone back to visit, and run into friends you used to know at a different point in your life, this should feel pretty relatable. Even though the world feels a little heightened here, it's good to know that among the barrage of jokes, there's also a real emotional truth to what's taking place on screen.

There's no way I'm going to convince anyone to go see Sisters instead of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which opens in theaters on the same day, but if fans of Fey and Poehler are looking for another movie to see during the holidays — perhaps if you're visiting your hometown and you run into a bunch of old high school friends — this is a funny, enjoyable runner-up.

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