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'Sisters' Film Review: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler engage in a little sibling ribaldry

December 18, 2015Ben MK

You know them as Liz Lemon and Leslie Knope from the TV shows 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation. But together, they've co-anchored Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update and co-starred in Mean Girls and Baby Mama. Now Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are together again in Sisters. And this time, things are completely out of control.

Directed by Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect), the film casts Fey and Poehler as Kate and Maura Ellis, two sisters who couldn't be more different from one another. Maura (Poehler), a nurse and divorcee, fancies herself an author of motivational catchphrases, and can't resist helping even when people don't particularly want her to. Her older sister Kate (Fey), on the other hand, is a hothead who's lost her job at a local hair salon, has just gotten herself kicked out of her apartment, and even her own teenage daughter (Madison Davenport) calls her out as irresponsible.

When their parents (James Brolin and Dianne Weist) decide to declutter and sell the old family home, Kate and Maura find themselves on the next flight back to Orlando to clean out their childhood bedroom. What they do when they get there, however, involves anything but cleaning. Once known in high school for their famous "Ellis Island" parties, the siblings instead decide to pull out all the stops and throw one last bash to relive their glory days. However, one thing quickly leads to another, which means that by the time their little house party is over, there may not be much house left to clean up.

Written by SNL writer Paula Pell, Sisters is a film that lives and dies by the strength of its comedic performances. Luckily, it happens to feature a stellar (and very large) supporting cast that includes the likes of Ike Barinholtz, Greta Lee, Maya Rudolph, Bobby Moynihan, John Leguizamo, Rachel Dratch, Kate McKinnon, Samantha Bee and John Cena. And though the actual storyline ends up being little more than an excuse to get the film to its extended house party sequence, once we put all these actors in the same confined space together, the result is pure comic gold.

Whether its Moynihan's character snorting a bag full of drugs under the mistaken assumption that it's Stevia, or Barinholtz's character getting his crotch accidentally lit on fire and then taking a ballerina figurine up the tuckus, there's no shortage of bizarre scenarios to wet your comedy whistle. Of course, that's not to say that Fey and Poehler don't steal the scene from time to time. In fact, that's exactly what the duo do most of the time, and their natural chemistry — the product of years of both on-screen and behind-the-scenes collaboration — is hands-down the best part of the movie.

Still, there's something about Sisters that ultimately holds it back from achieving cinematic greatness. For aside from a few memorable scenes, such as a very funny exchange between Maura and a nail salon worker played by Lee, the portions of the film set both before and after its riotous centerpiece often fall somewhat flat. Nonetheless, these are qualms that shouldn't affect audience enjoyment too negatively, as anyone who buys a ticket to see Sisters is there mainly to watch the interplay between Fey and Poehler. And, in that respect, the movie doesn't disappoint.

Sisters releases December 18th, 2015 from Universal Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R for crude sexual content and language throughout, and for drug use. Its runtime is 1 Hr. 58 Mins.

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