Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
Sisters - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Directing: B
Acting: B+
Writing: B
Cinematography: B
Editing: B+

Considering this other little movie you may have heard of is selling out theaters all over the place all weekend, a fair number of you may want to see something else while you wait for the crowds to dissipate. Or, I suppose, there is the small fraction of people who genuinely have no interest in that other movie. Should you see a comedy about two middle-aged sisters throwing one last party in their childhood home before their parents sell it?

As always with movies like this, that depends. I'm inclined to say, "Sure, why not!" Sisters is harmless fun, nothing you'll remember for very long, but assuming its snarky female sensibility speaks to you, it's mostly a good time while it's happening. In terms of straight-up comedies for adults, your only other option in theatres right now is The Night Before, and this movie is better. Just not by a huge margin.

That said, if you're a fan of Tina Fey and/or Amy Poehler (and if you're only a fan of one of them, what is wrong with you?), you'll enjoy it. It's nice to see Fey playing against type as the irresponsible one, who keeps losing jobs and wants to party all the time and make her daughter (Madison Davenport) feel like the parent. Fey has never quite been seen like this in a movie, and she sells it surprisingly well. Poehler, on the other hand, now plays the sensible one, now a divorcee for reasons never gotten into, but her sensibleness being what also exasperates her parents is a little more of a stretch.

The supporting cast is a practically never-ending parade of SNL-alum and other funny friends of Fey's and Poehler's, most of them making up the high school classmate guest list for the party chosen in a Facebook invite. The one who didn't get invited is Brinda, the snotty snob played with far better comedy by Maya Rudolph than the character as written deserves. On paper Brinda is relatively one-note, but Rudolph brings her to life with facial contortions alone.

The sisters' parents are played by James Brolin and Diane Wiest, who I kind of wish had been given better material -- they are somewhat funny at times but never as much as clearly intended, and at moments it feels like it's just an excuse to let us all hear Wiest utter words like "fuck" and "cuntingly."

Which is to say, like most movies of Sisters's ilk, sometimes it's truly funny; sometimes it tries to be and just isn't. In one unfortunate scene, which was also featured in the trailer, the man Poehler's Maura is trying to seduce (The Mindy Project's Ike Barinholtz) slips on spilled jell onto a music box ballerina, winding up (uh, pardon the pun) with it in his butt. Up until this point, Sisters has a fair amount of holiness but there's still an air of realism. This would just never, ever happen, and the manner in which it's played for laughs is straight up dumb. Thankfully, no other scene in the movie is nearly as dumb, but that stupid ballerina-in-the-butt scene still exists.

At the very least, Poehler and Fey are clearly having fun, as is the rest of the cast. This is basically their modern update on Animal House, except everyone is much older (shopping for party outfits: "We need a little less Forever 21 and a little more Suddenly 42"). Enough of it is genuinely funny that you barely have time to register the punch lines that don't land before another one that does comes along. The pacing is swift, which is refreshing for a comedy that's fully two hours long; far too often these movies get into disappointing lulls. At least here there's always something happening that keeps you engaged -- even Bobby Moynihan as the annoying guy who tries too hard to be funny but never is (until he snorts a bunch of coke that he thinks is Stevia).

Sisters has all it promises: sex, drugs, rock & roll (okay, more like house music), and a whole lot of funny caricatures played by great people in small parts or cameos. Maura, and Fey's Kate, are having one last blowout in the house that's already been sold -- and it should come as no surprise, and thus it's not a spoiler, that they wind up trashing the house. The Florida setting itself even gets added to the mix as far as the damage is concerned. Seeing middle-aged or older people letting themselves get out of control for the first time in years is hardly a new concept these days, except here, it's Kate, the irresponsible one, who is designated "Party Mom," asked to keep sober while Maura finally cuts loose. If this plan went the way the characters wanted it to, we wouldn't have a movie.

This particular movie works as well as it does because of the people involved. Sisters is not exceptional enough to command viewing per se, but for fans of Amy Poehler or Tina Fey, or virtually any of the other players in this movie, neither will it disappoint.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler play against type in SISTERS.

Overall: B
Leave a comment