Director: Jason Moore
Cast: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Dianne Wiest, James Brolin, John Cena, John Leguizamo, Ike Barinholtz, Madison Davenport, Brian d'Arcy James
Runtime: 1 hr 58 mins
Rating: NC-16 (Sexual Humour And Drug Use)
Released By: UIP
Official Website: http://www.sistersfilm.com/
Opening Day: 17 March 2016
Synopsis: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler reunite for "Sisters", a new film from "Pitch Perfect" director Jason Moore about two disconnected sisters summoned home to clean out their childhood bedroom before their parents sell the family house. Looking to recapture their glory days, they throw one final high-school-style party for their classmates, which turns into the cathartic rager that a bunch of ground-down adults really need.
If you’ve seen ‘Saturday Night Live’, you know how funny Tina Fey and Amy Poehler can be together – and that is precisely what we were expecting from their second big-screen outing after the formulaic but nonetheless entertaining ‘Baby Mama’. Alas, ‘Sisters’ is even worse than derivative, struggling to find pathos and purpose in a thinly disguised grown-up women-behaving-badly comedy that is only very occasionally funny. Oh yes, Fey and Poehler’s chemistry is still effervescent and infectious as ever, but the movie written by ‘SNL’s’ Paula Pell and directed by ‘Pitch Perfect’s’ Jason Moore is sloppy and uninspired, squandering the duo’s illuminous comic talent in witless puerile jokes.
The embarrassingly thin premise casts Fey and Poehler as two very different siblings who decide to throw one blow-out party at their childhood home before their parents (James Brolin and Dianne Wiest) sell the place for a compact retirement condo to a snooty couple from New York. On one hand, Kate (Fey) is a forty-something scattered wreck who cannot quite hold down a job and whose teenage daughter refuses to live with her; on the other, Maura (Poehler) is a childless and recently divorced nurse who is compassionate to a fault. Notwithstanding their contrasting personalities, Kate and Maura agree that the best way to honour their memories from before is to load up on the booze and send out invitations to all their high school friends on Facebook.
Most of ‘Sisters’ revolves around the party itself, which evolves from a dull gathering of grown-ups talking about menopause, vaginal rejuvenation and the indignities of aging to a wild night out complete with drugs (courtesy of John Cena’s heavily-tattooed deadpan drug dealer Pazuzu)), alcohol, lesbians with dance music and young Korean nail-bar girls. This is longtime television writer Pell’s first feature-length script, which explains why the gags are episodic and often barely strung together. Aside from a scene which sees Maura’s handyman love interest (Ike Barinholtz) get a music box playing ‘Fur Elise’ stuck in an uncomfortable place, the rest of the physical and verbal humour are just belaboured attempts at raunchiness.
Aware of how little they have to go on, the leads call in a whole host of past and present ‘SNL’ players for support. Bobby Moynihan goes from dorky to maniacal after snorting a Scarface-amount of cocaine. Kate McKinnon is one-half of a lesbian couple who provides the party’s electronic dance music. Maya Rudolph pops up now and then as their high-school rival who tries repeatedly to sabotage their party after being chased out by Kate. And oh, John Leguizamo is a skeevy high-school burnout who propositions both sisters by asking them if they will make him the inside of an ‘Ellis sandwich’. The bit parts are fun, but they also diffuse the central story.
Between the penis jokes and the incessant vulgarities is supposedly a story about coming to terms with one’s demands and responsibilities as an adult, but even the inevitable sister argument towards the end and the eventual sentimental wrap-up can’t quite bring out the warmth, humour and insight in this coming-of-age tale that the film is undoubtedly aiming for. Not that Fey and Poehler don’t try – the typically type-A character playing Fey lets loose to flaunt a sexier and much more easygoing persona while Poehler earns plenty of empathy as the do-gooder catching up on what she has missed out in life. And no matter their roles, their presence alone is disarmingly likeable, so much so that you won’t begrudge them for taking up two hours of your life.
Yet it is also precisely this reason that ‘Sisters’ is ultimately a disappointment – despite the star package, what transpires is no more than a tired exercise in ribald humour that is content to wallow in its shallowness. There are fitful laughs along the way no doubt, but the furious pace at which the quips and gags fly belie a desperation to let whatever comes to mind rip and hoping that some will hit. The truth is many do not, and ‘Sisters’ often coasts on fumes while coasting on the charm and chemistry of Fey and Poehler. Once you’ve seen ‘SNL’, you know that they surely deserve much, much better.
(Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are disarmingly funny and likeable as always, but this sloppy and uninsipired tread through raunchy jokes and countless F-bombs is hardly worth their comic potential)
Review by Gabriel Chong