December 15, 2015

SCREEN | Tina Fey and Amy Poehler Party Down – 'Sisters'

Tina Fey Amy Poehler | Sisters

From Pitch Perfect director Jason Moore and starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Sisters is a party comedy about many things including nostalgia, family, adulthood, and of course, growing up. If all that sounds pleasant but still predictably standard, it's because it is. The film is mostly pleasing and often hilarious but never quite lives up to its considerable on screen talent.

Fey and Poehler switch roles as Fey plays the irresponsible, unemployed, and homeless mess of a single mother as Poehler is the straight-laced divorcée struggling to let loose. Moore assembles a fairly winning cast including Ike Barinholtz, usually the goofball, as a rather refreshingly standard romantic lead for Poehler while a whole host of former Saturday Night Live players (including the film's screenwriter Paula Pell) show up as middle-aged partiers. John Cena offers another insanely funny turn as a hulked out drug dealer and Maya Rudolph gives a big performance as an old enemy to the sisters. While numerous players get their laughs, the film does suffer from overcrowding with so many comedians vying for time and jokes.

Easily the entire film's highlight is an extended scene set in a Korean nail saloon where Amy's stuffy Kate tries to pronounce the manicurist's name, "Hae-Won". It's so endearingly simple (and admittedly, pretty stupid) but hilariously satisfying scene thanks to Great Lee's straight-faced performance and Poehler's surefire earnestness that avoids any possible racist undertones.

Ultimately, any film focused on these two with their endearing friendship and bond based on mutual support and self-depricating comedy is probably going to be worth watching. It's just too bad Sisters doesn't live up to their clear talent and chemistry seen far better and funnier elsewhere. As fun as the wild drugged out and alcohol fuelled party hijinx usually is, often Pell's scripting about middle-aged female malaise and melancholy is more captivating—even when it's out of place—for its frank discussion of aging and adulthood.

Sisters is almost too predictably fun and funny but underserves its massively talented leads and cast. Moore's direction is serviceable enough yet it never lifts the tired but well enough executed material. Too often it feels like a mashup of a college party movie tropes and a Judd Apatow comedy as it never quite decides which it really wants to be.

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