Tag Archives: Amy Poehler

Sibling Revelry

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).

James Brolin & Dianne Wiest

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





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Head Trip

Latest Pixar gem gets plenty of laughs but also goes deep


Inside Out

Starring Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling & Phyllis Smith

Directed by Pete Doctor and Ronaldo Del Carmen


At some point or another, every parent has wondered what—if not what in the world—his or her kids were thinking.

Pixar offers an answer—or at least some exuberantly fanciful, wonderfully imaginative, wildly creative, richly emotional speculation—with Inside Out, which takes place mostly inside the head of an 11-year-old girl, Riley.

Since Riley’s birth, the five emotions in the command center of her noggin have been working together as she interacts with the world, sending the proper signals down her neural pathways, keeping her safe and trying to make her happy—and storing away her memories at the end of every day in a vast memory bank. The emotions are all “characters” themselves, with their own (literally) colorful personalities: Perky, effervescent yellow-glowing Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), the leader of the cranial crew, is joined by the geeky, purple all-phobic Fear (Bill Hader); blue, depressed Sadness (Phyllis Smith); prissy green young maiden Disgust (Mindy Kaling); and blustery red hothead Anger (Lewis Black).

INSIDE OUTWhen Riley’s young life hits some major growing-up turbulence, the emotions spring into overdrive to help her through it. But a snafu separates Joy and Sadness from the rest of the emotions, whooshing them out of Riley’s command center and marooning them in the deeper recesses of her conscious and subconscious—and leaving Fear, Anger and Disgust to call the shots. Soon things begin to fall apart, both inside Riley’s head and outside in the real world.

The magic and wonders of Inside Out, steered by directors Pete Doctor (Up and Monsters, Inc.) and Ronaldo Del Carmen, are wide-ranging as the inventive initial setup expands to become a rollicking adventure for Joy and Sadness, especially after they encounter Riley’s imaginary childhood friend Bing Bong (Richard Kind), who’s part elephant, part cotton-candy, part cat, part dolphin—and all delight.


The brain, science tell us, is one of the most complex things in all of creation, and the movie’s depiction of it is a thing of ingenious splendor, a mix of fantastically cartoonish sight gags and sublime comedic riffs, all of them connected to the emotional rollercoaster ride being experienced by Riley—and, by extension, any of us, at some time or another. (There are some terrific side trips, especially during the credits, into the heads of other characters, where we meet their emotions.)

Pixar’s best films, like Toy Story, Up, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, have always worked on double levels, entertaining kids and moving grownups—often to tears. The exceptionally well-made Inside Out is no exception: Kids and adults will both laugh, and plenty. But the movie’s underlying themes about how Sadness and Joy “work together” in more ways than one, and how some memories—and parts of childhood—fade away forever will resonate on a profound, deeply moving level with adults who can relate in ways that many younger viewers can’t…at least yet.

Settle in early for Lava, a heartwarming, all-musical Pixar short about a Pacific volcano looking for love. Then get ready for another Pixar gem that starts in the head, but ends up settling into somewhere much, much deeper.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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