Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are so comfortable working together that they’re able to easily rise above uneven material, which is what they do in Sisters from director Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect). Fey and Poehler play, obviously, sisters in Sisters and their off-screen long-term friendship helps sell that dynamic on screen despite the fact they look nothing alike. With Sisters the duo prove they can squeeze a laugh out of material that shouldn’t work. If a joke doesn’t land like it should, no worries because Fey and Poehler keep the energy level up and the jokes fly so fast and furiously that if one doesn’t land the next one’s likely to stick.
In Sisters it’s Amy Poehler who’s the responsible, uptight sister while Tina Fey plays the wild child who can’t keep a job. Kate (Fey) struggles to remember she’s the adult in the relationship with her teenage daughter while Maura (Poehler) struggles to remember the last time she cut loose and had any fun. The opportunity to change things up comes when their parents (played by Diane Wiest and James Brolin) announce they’ve sold the family’s home and are moving to a retirement community. Maura and Kate have one final opportunity to go through the house and pack up anything that holds special memories. The weekend of packing transforms into a wild, alcohol-fueled orgy after Kate convinces Maura she needs to let her freak flag fly. All of their old childhood friends show up, but instead of partying hardy they hardly party. They’re all respectable adults now and it takes a lot of prompting by Kate and Maura to finally let it go and party like it’s 1999. Kate promises to be the designated sober adult, Maura plans a night of debauchery with the hunky neighbor, and the house – which was supposed to be in the hands of the new owners in just a few days – looks like it should be declared a disaster area and condemned by the time Kate and Maura’s attempt to resurrect their youth comes to an end.
Paula Pell (Saturday Night Live) wrote the script which at times feels a bit like an overly long sketch from the late night show. As drugs and alcohol fuel the action on the screen, the jokes get raunchier and devolve into the use of gross-out humor. But the supporting cast steps it up and along with Poehler and Fey give Sisters an energy that’s infectious. John Cena shows up as a badass drug dealer, Rachel Dratch revisits her Debbie Downer character, and Maya Rudolph plays Kate’s old nemesis from high school who tries every trick in the book to get invited to the party. SNL’s Bobby Moynihan plays against type as a guy who is unable to land a joke.
Sisters isn’t all about the jokes, squeezing a lesson or two in about families, relationships, responsibility, and love. In fact, the film tries a little too hard to be more than just a comedy. There’s a side story about the relationship between Kate’s daughter and Maura that doesn’t work, and I’d love to know what Pell was thinking when she created the deaf Korean manicurist character. Still, Fey and Poehler give it their all which is enough to make Sisters an entertaining two hours for fans of the funny ladies.
MPAA Rating: R for crude sexual content and language throughout, and for drug use
Running Time: 118 minutes
Release Date: December 18, 2016