Sisters (2015)

Director: Jason Moore
Starring: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey
Genre: Comedy

Sisters, a raunchy R-rated comedy, lives and dies by the chemistry of its leads. It’s lucky, then, that its leads are Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Their comedic connection is as strong as it has ever been, honed by years of working together on the Weekend Update portion of Saturday Night Live, and thoroughly compensates for the movie’s lacklustre story and direction. It’s not hard to think, though, that their talents, both separately and together, deserve much better than what Sisters has provided.

The film centres around Maura and Kate, two sisters who return to their childhood home after they find out that their parents are selling it. Instead of removing their belongings, they throw a house party, inviting their old friends (all portrayed by very recognisable faces). The party serves a different purpose for the two characters. Maura, a nurse who cares far too much about other people instead of herself, tries to recapture the youth of their past, while the irresponsible, happy-go-lucky Kate attempts to learn how to be an adult. Looks-wise, Poehler and Fey aren’t entirely believable as sisters, but their chemistry more than makes up for it. Their witty, back-and-forth comedic dialogue is entertaining as always, even if the jokes are mostly hit and miss.

The story itself starts off slowly, and doesn’t really take flight until the second act where the bulk of the film takes place. The party set-piece is where the film hits its stride, where we follow not only Maura and Kate but an ensemble of characters. The supporting cast is a particular highlight; Maya Rudolph is a scene-stealer as Kate’s snobby high school nemesis, and Rachel Dratch, Bobby Moynihan, Kate McKinnon and John Cena (who is equally great in Trainwreck) all also get chances to shine. The movie also benefits from upping the pace, with jokes flying at us from all directions.

The emotional beats, however, don’t hit home as well as the movie wants it to, a result of the fairly bland and derivative plot which seems like a rehashing of previous comedies. It’s also not helped by the film’s almost two-hour long running time; the story loses a lot of its momentum halfway through its final act where we see tensions boiling over between Maura and Kate, and it would have fared much better with half an hour shaved off. We never feel truly invested in the characters’ arcs, however funny and endearing Poehler and Fey are, and the payoff feels largely inconsequential.

Sisters is a film that should be disappointing and forgettable, but ultimately isn’t, thanks to the sheer talent of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. They are reason enough to give the movie a watch. One of these days though, I hope they can find a film with a plot and narrative that are just as irresistible as they are.

 

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