Director: Jason Moore
Little Stranger/Everyman Pictures/Universal Pictures
It would be easy, I’m sure, for someone to tell you that Sisters – a vehicle built entirely for the dazzling but effortless chemistry between and individual talents of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler – was lazy, crude, cheap, silly. But it’s still fun – and importantly funny. I didn’t think it lazy either, nor crude. Yes, there are some cheap laughs, but this is a comedy that works because of who is in it as much as what it’s about. There’s a slight change-up from what might have been expected character-wise, with Fey playing the rager and Poehler as the nearly-uptight, sensible one (though of course here she’s almost as close as she’s ever been to her winning Leslie Knope from Parks & Rec) but entry to this film requires you to sit back and watch as Fey and Poehler tear off the tab on a can of instant-party and go at it.
Good cameos and lots of scene-stealers too. Samantha Bee, Bobby Moynihan, Maya Rudolph and Rachel Dratch are among the friends and alumni that make the most of their time on screen. If the likes of Kate McKinnon and Chris Parnell have less to do, less of a chance, they are still pitch-perfect in roles they could have slept-walked through.
John Cena shows – following his turn in Trainwreck – that he has true comedic gifts and great comic timing, not just in a good-for-a-pro-wrestler kind of way. But it is all about Poehler (Maura) and Fey (Kate) as the Ellis Sisters, reunited for one last “Ellis Island” House Party because their folks (Dianne Wiest and James Brolin almost hamming it up) have gone all selfish and are selling the family home to sneak off for condo-life and afternoon delight away from their grown children.
Sisters is silly. And it knows it. Writer Paula Pell knows these voices so well – Dratch, Rudolph, Parnell, Poehler and Fey all worked with her on Saturday Night Live (and most of them on 30 Rock also). She has written this for Tina and Amy and with the knowledge that the likes of Dratch and Rudolph would step up to own a line with their own inimitable delivery.
Sisters is so much better than the likes of Bridesmaids nor is it any “female version” of bro-bro buddy comedy fodder, though you could be forgiven for thinking, from the press-tour clips and trailers that Sisters was being pitched as exactly that.
It has just enough heart, it’s piss-yourself-funny and it has, due to the blessing of its cast, a strange, frenzied charm. That it is essentially an exercise in comedy one-upmanship and blazing joke-on-joke momentum means it shows up almost everything it leaves in its wake. Remember how you felt about the original Anchorman way back over a decade ago? Or the first, funny Adam Sandler films…or Judd Apatow’s best (early) bits…well this matches – and surpasses – any and all of those.
Sisters is hilarious. Unless you’ve never liked what Fey and Poehler do. And if that’s the case I wonder why you bothered to keep reading.