Poehler, Fey launch sweet, raunchy ‘Sisters’ into comedic orbit
Starring Tina Fey & Amy Poehler
Directed by Jason Moore
If you’re looking for a popcorn alternative to Star Wars, here’s something that will send you sailing into a different kind of movie orbit.
In Sisters, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler play a pair of grownup siblings who try to recapture their younger days by staging one final raucous, riotous house party.
Poehler is Maura, the helpful, respectable, responsible younger-sis do-gooder nurse. Fey is Kate, a little older, a good deal wilder and much brassier—but “not a hothead!” as she continually reminds folks. When they find out their mom and dad (James Brolin and Dianne Wiest) have decided to downsize, they return to their childhood home to do everything they can to ward off the potential buyers.
Kate’s teenage daughter (Madison Davenport) thinks her jobless-cosmetologist mom is an embarrassment, and she doesn’t want to live with her anymore. Can one night of abandon help Maura break free of her dull, nice-girl past—and a lifetime lived in the shadow of the more adventurous, more daring Kate? And will stopping the sale of their home solve their problems—or create bigger ones?
Fey and Poehler, of course, worked together on TV’s Saturday Night Live before going on to even greater heights in various other projects, including solo stardom in Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock. Sisters is their first full movie collaboration in seven years, since Baby Mama (2008), and once again they strike comedy gold.
Not only are they funny, they know that things get even funnier by surrounding themselves with funny people and letting them do their stuff. Working from a script by former SNL writer Paula Pell, and under the direction of Jason (Pitch Perfect) Moore, they generously fill the talent pool with current SNL players (Kate McKinnon, Bobby Monynihan), fellow alums (Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch), rising stars (Samantha Bee, whose new TBS show, Full Frontal, premiers in January) and a cavalcade of supporting players (John Leguizamo; WWE superstar John Cena; Matt Oberg).
Even Brolin and Wiest, the two veterans of the cast, get plenty of opportunities to joist and jab with their funny bones.
But the movie belongs to its two co-stars, who rock, roll and rule with a crackerjack chemistry that fuels everything, firing on all cylinders from start to finish. Some of it is raunchy, although well within bounds of today’s R-rated comedy sandbox. And it’s all brisk, bright, some of it even quite sweet, and very, very funny. Somehow grownup jokes Christmas-gift-wrapped by these two smart, classy leading ladies make the dirty seem merely naughty.
There’s a giant phallus painted on the wall—and Tina Fey’s taking suggestive selfies with it! Haha! What are they pretending to do with those majorette batons? Teehee! Are they really talking so much about sex, drugs and private parts? Hardy-har-har!
The humor is rapid-fire, especially when the banter is zipping, zapping and zinging between Fey and Poehler, whose timing, sense of teamwork and ease around each other suggests that they really might be Sisters, after all. And they’re great dance partners, too—they bust a righteous move at their party to the 1993 rap-dance song “Informer” (“a licky boom-boom down”) and end the movie with a sweet slow-dance groove that becomes a joyously goofy send-off.
The (comedy) Force is definitely with them.
—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine