Sisters (2015)

Sisters (2015)
  • Time: 118 min
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Director: Jason Moore
  • Cast: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, John Leguizamo, Maya Rudolph


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.


  • The Tina Fey-Amy Poehler sister-sister combo has always been a good one. Their SNL days and their quiet but enjoyable flick Baby Mama have shown how comfortable the two are working together, and it seemed only inevitable for the two to make another film together. Of course, Sisters is echoing the same vibes that Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly gave in Step Brothers. What can go wrong?

    Apparently a lot Maura (Poehler) and Kate (Fey) Ellis. Once they discover that their parents have sold their childhood home, two sisters decide to throw a house party for one last hoorah. Whereas Poehler played the bad girl in Baby Mama, it is Fey’s turn to play the rebellious, broke mother, desperately trying to hold on to her daughter while she tries to enjoy her party ways. With the party being thrown, the two agree to switch roles for the night, as Maura can have a chance to enjoy herself and be reckless while Kate plays the “party mom” for the night (and holding someone’s hair as they vomit is never fun).

    It’ll be hard picking your favorite moment once the party begins though. John Cena as a drug dealer steals every scene he is in (which he is accustomed to after dominating the WWE for so long). Or perhaps Bobby Moynihan as Alex will get you chuckling, as he plays that one unfunny guy from high school that you gave pity laughs to. Of course, when you drug him with strong cocaine, he’ll finally begin to show his true improv comedy (like using his penis to paint a wall).

    While their chemistry is back on the big screen, it’s surprising that neither Poehler nor Fey had any part in the writing of the movie. With their proven track records, you would think that they would write their own script, but instead, SNL writer veteran Paula Bell took the honor. Although winning a Primetime Emmy for her work in SNL, Bell was unable to tap into the full potential that Sisters could have had.

    The movie really picks up once the party begins, and with the strength of the cameos in this movie, Sisters is able to avoid becoming another SNL movie that fails to bring the same magic as on Saturday nights.

    But hey, one (or is it Hae-Won as Maura fails to say right) thing boils down to it: if you enjoy a subpar episode of SNL or enjoy Tina Fey or Amy Poehler, then you will find everything that they utter hilarious, but this isn’t the next Bridesmaids. When all the humor is pushed aside, there is always a message that hits home: “A house is a building, but a home is a feeling.” If that rings true from Sisters, then this will too: A comedy is a genre, but a funny film is true pleasantry. Which is Sisters though? Somewhere right down the middle.

  • Unless you’ve been living a real sheltered life, you’d know that actresses Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are real-life best buds. It’s obvious. They host the Golden Globes together, do interviews together, and star opposite each other in many a flick. Their latest collaboration in which they perform synchronized, dance moves together (not once but twice), is 2015’s Sisters (my latest review). In truth, this is the definition of hit-or-miss comedy people. It’s crass, vulgar, cringeworthy, and pretty thin on plot. I laughed heartily a few times but also felt sorry (and/or ashamed) for all the troupers (mainly in their early 40’s or late 30’s) plastered on screen. Just think of this thing as a poor man’s Bridesmaids or a far superior version of 2008’s dreadful, Step Brothers. That will set your mind straight.

    Directed by Jason Moore (he shot Pitch Perfect), co-starring Oscar winner Diane Wiest (ah-huh), taking place in sunny, Orlando, Florida, and improvised to the max, Sisters had the unfortunate task of competing with the new Star Wars movie (I’d say it did pretty good overall). As a guilty girl’s farce, the film score is straight out of a bad 80’s pantomime, the F word runs rampant throughout, and one character actually says, “get your peanut butter out of my sister’s chocolate”. Interesting.

    Anyway, the story goes like this: Maura Ellis (Poehler) and Kate Ellis (Fey) are middle-aged losers. Maura has poor social skills and is divorced. Kate is an unemployed stylist who lives on some one’s couch and can’t connect with her teenage daughter (Hayley played by Madison Davenport). When their childhood home is being put up for sale by their tolerant parents (played by Wiest and the slumming James Brolin), Maura and Kate decide to throw one last party there to summon old memories (and holistic traditions). That’s basically the whole kit and caboodle. Everyone at said party is part of their high school crew. They all get hammered, drugged up, and act like unhinged buffoons. Look for solid thespians embarrassing themselves in bad cameos (we’re talking John Leguizamo, Maya Rudolph, and John Cena). Also, be on the lookout for a coked-up guest painting a wall with his penis, a sinkhole that results in sisterly mud wrestling, and another party visitant accidentally getting a sharp object stuck up his keister (ugh). To quote the veritable Garth Algar, “I think I’m gonna hurl”. Yup.

    All in all, I’ve never been a fan of Tina Fey in terms of her dramatic work (see review for This Is Where I Leave You). However, I do think she has a few comedic chops up her sleeve. In jest, it’s pretty evident that her and Amy Poehler had a ton of fun making their pronounced pet project. It’s just a shame that that fun can’t quite be shared in the same vein as your typical cinematic audience. Rating: 2 and a half stars.

    Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

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  • Amy and Tina. Fey and Poehler. The former Saturday Night Livers have branded themselves as the gold standard of female friendship over the years. Garnering individual acclaim for their critically beloved sitcoms (Fey with 30 Rock, Poehler with Parks and Recreation), they have combined their comedic superpowers hosting and presenting various awards shows, entertaining the Hollywood glitterati with their witty barbs. They’re practically national treasures at this point, but it’s often easy to forget that their pairings on film have yet to be wholly satisfying affairs.

    Baby Mama, the 2008 comedy that featured Fey as a successful and uptight career woman who hires the brash and obnoxious Poehler to be her surrogate mother, barely coasted on its stars’ charms. Sisters, their latest collaboration, is an arguably more enjoyable effort but still contains problems, including gags that are too drawn out, a bloated beginning, a slack middle, and a predictably pat ending. Nevertheless, Sisters works by virtue of Fey and Poehler’s chemistry and the energetic playing of the supporting cast, most notably fellow SNL alum Maya Rudolph, who steals every scene by simply breathing.

    Sisters reverses the actresses’ usual personas. Younger sister Maura (Poehler) has responsibility and earnestness wired into her DNA. A recent divorcee, she is introduced trying to help a homeless man, who turns out not to be very homeless at all. Older sister Kate (Fey), meanwhile, is an unemployed beautician and single mom whose college-age daughter, Haley (Madison Davenport), wishes she would grow up and start acting like a mom for a change. Kate resolves to clean up her act – perhaps moving in with her parents (James Brolin and Dianne Wiest) in Orlando might be a temporary solution to her problems.

    There’s just one hitch: their parents have gone ahead and sold the family home without giving fair warning to either sister. The sisters are given a couple of days to clean out their childhood keepsakes before the new owners move in. The sisters decide to throw a house party to end all house parties, which would allow the conservative Maura to let her freak flag fly whilst Kate reluctantly agrees to serve as party mom and keep everyone in check. Director Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect) cranks up the chaos – a tree will fall and a swimming pool will be engulfed in a sinkhole by film’s end – and the party becomes an outlet for all the characters, who revert back to childish behaviour, reliving the days before children and mortgages tied them down and dampened their ids.

    At nearly two hours, Sisters does have many moments of drag, which are exacerbated by bits that are indulgently improvisatory. An exchange between Maura and a Korean manicurist, Hae-Won (the wonderfully deadpan Greta Lee), is sublimely silly until it’s not. Ike Barinholtz, as Poehler’s love interest, gamely grins and bears it during the film’s biggest gross-out gag which, once again, may have wrung more laughs by being more tightly edited.

    John Cena is fast positioning himself as an effective straight man for some very funny ladies. “My safe word is ‘keep going,'” he tells Fey’s Kate and one wishes for more scenes between the two. Still, Sisters is Fey and Poehler’s show all the way and they do not disappoint even when the material does. Their send-up of too-tight clubwear might be the highlight and results in the funniest line of the entire film: “We need a little less Forever 21 and a little more Suddenly 42.”

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