Sisters Jason Moore
Published Dec 18, 2015Making an enjoyable comedy isn't as simple as pairing a couple of funny people together, but it's not exactly a bad place to start either. Harnessing the natural chemistry between former Saturday Night Live cast members and Weekend Update co-anchors Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Sisters gives the duo ample opportunity to showcase their immense comic abilities in an infectiously fun and shamelessly raunchy party movie.
Things don't exactly start out incredibly promising though, as an over-long first act that's comparatively light on laughs sets the stage for the mayhem to come. Sisters Kate (Fey) and Maura (Poehler) are both struggling to come into their own in adulthood. The more reserved Maura is recently divorced and working as a nurse while Kate is newly unemployed and homeless, with a daughter who's been surreptitiously staying with her aunt Maura behind Kate's back.
They're both struck with the bombshell that their parents (Dianne Wiest and James Brolin) are selling their childhood home in Orlando and moving into a condo. When Kate and Maura return there to ostensibly clean out their rooms and prepare the house for the new snooty owners, they soon decide instead to throw one last blowout bash at the house and re-live the wild parties they used to host back in high school.
The film picks up steam as the epic shindig gets underway, allowing a host of talented actors and comedians to make the most of their screen time as guests, while the proceedings get increasingly rowdy. Fellow SNL alumni predictably steal their share of scenes, including current cast member Bobby Moynihan as an overeager reveller who's always on, Maya Rudolph as an unwanted guest who's dead-set on either attending or bringing the party to a halt, and Rachel Dratch as a despondent woman wondering where the years have gone.
But there's also plenty of room for non-SNL cast members, like John Cena's stoic drug dealer who shows up with seemingly every upper and downer known to man, John Leguizamo's creepy sinkhole victim and Greta Lee's party animal Hae-Won— a troublesome name that Poehler hilariously struggles with pronouncing in a memorable scene. Then there's Ike Barinholtz doing thankless work as a neighbour who's returned to fix up his parents' house after they both passed away, stepping into the role of Maura's love interest with an impossibly understanding and reassuring presence.
The script by Paula Pell, a former SNL head writer herself, may be more concerned with cramming as many episodic laughs as possible into the overstuffed two-hour running time than fleshing out the relationship between the sisters beyond the most generic of sitcom complications and sibling bonding, but that's hardly a capital crime. It's here that the familiarity between Poehler and Fey becomes the film's greatest asset, filling in any blanks on the page and elevating smaller moments with an easy rapport that's clearly been finely honed over the years.