Christmas came early this year—albeit this review has come late—with the release of what can only be described as a comedic gift, in the form of the cinematic joy that is Sisters. Comedy geniuses Tina Fey and Amy Poehler join forces with a host of other terrifically talented actors to create a wild ride through one insane party wherein the freak flags fly high, and caution has been utterly thrown to the wind.
There are certain entertainers who play well with a script. You hand them the proper words, and they’ll bring a character’s story to life in vivid, mind-blowing fashion, oftentimes winning awards for their portrayals. Daniel Day-Lewis, Meryl Streep, Robin Williams and the like are just a few of such people the world has been blessed with seeing on the silver screen.
Then there are other kinds of entertainers who simply have a different type of innate skill set, whereby they simply need to be “let loose,” as it were, and they’ll run with whatever they’re given in an inimitable way, because such a God-given talent cannot be hidden or squelched out. While no one is limited entirely to one “brand” or another—Robin Williams certainly crosses over—Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are of this latter archetype. Due to a real-life friendship and bond formed over many years, as well as an onscreen presence in countless Saturday Night Live collaborations, awards show hosting gigs, and beyond, the two are an unstoppable force of hilarity, and one can only wish for more work of theirs to get green-lighted because every time (while some instances are better than others), it’s a joy. They could be sat down in a room together and simply viewed doing nothing more than exchanging jokes and enjoying each other’s company, and it could potentially be a far greater entertaining sight to witness than much of the rubbish released in theatres for which studio conglomerates give financial backing. (Like Neighbors 2? …Seriously?).
Thankfully, Universal Studios distributed one such brilliant collaboration, and a pleasure to behold it indeed is! In a screenplay by Paula Pell, and directed by Jason Moore, Sisters is a hilarious tale about two women who essentially don’t want to grow up (well, one more so than the other, at least it would seem).
Kate Ellis (Tina Fey) has always been a wild child. She was the reckless one who drove her parents mad back in high school, and in adulthood, her own daughter Haley (Madison Davenport) is the “responsible adult” of their mother/daughter relationship, oftentimes steering her mother away from making decisions that will ultimately be destructive for the good of their family. Kate is a single mom, and she can’t seem to hold down a steady job. She begins the movie in a somewhat aimless manner, but one thing is for certain: the girl knows how to have fun.
Maura Ellis (Amy Poehler) is the more responsible sister. She’s a divorcée, a type-A personality, and the one regularly in touch with her parents Bucky Ellis (James Brolin) and Deana Ellis (Dianne Wiest). She is oftentimes more of a parental force in her niece, Haley’s life, than Kate is. And she starts out in the film definitely needing to let loose.
Kate and Maura become informed that their childhood home is up for sale, much to their chagrin, as their parents, Bucky and Deana, no longer wish to keep it up. They want to enjoy retirement, travel, downsize, etc.
Infuriated at the news, the ladies make a trip to said home for a little convincing, and to their great surprise, much of the stuff is already cleared out. They decide that before the new owners set up shop and the last shreds of their memories are taken from them, they’re going to throw one, great big party.
Reuniting much of the old gang from their younger days, as well as new faces too, the raucous event turns berserk, and hilarity, madness, and plenty of shenanigans ensue. The co-starring leads bring into the fold a tremendous cast for all the other many roles that appear in the film, many of whom have filtered in from Fey/Poehler’s past SNL/30 Rock/Parks and Recreation lives: (Maya Rudolph, Ike Barinholtz, Rachel Dratch, Samantha Bee, John Cena, Greta Lee, Kate McKinnon, Jon Glaser, Chris Parnell, Sue Galloway, John Lutz, Brian d’Arcy James, John Leguizamo, and an over-the-top hilarious performance by Bobby Moynihan). It’s simply bliss, watching so many funny people in tandem with one another.
The movie isn’t perfect, as it structurally can oftentimes be difficult to rein in such unbridled comedy to make sound, coherent storytelling. However, that is not to say that nothing makes sense in Sisters the way that, say, a Judd Apatow production often has a tendency to do—his movies absolutely never know when a joke has ended, and they drag them on and on and on far past the moment when a scene should have ended.
It’s simply that telling a story as bombastic as a “one-last-blow-the-roof-off-the-house-party” tale can only truly be so dynamic, otherwise the comedy of it could have the potential to get hung up on story. That is not to say that one ought to suffer for the other, but simply that it can be difficult to seamlessly weave the two together in perfect harmony.
That said, Sisters is an absolute pleasure, and with moments of sheer laughter that will draw multiple re-viewings. Here’s to many, many more collaborations of the amazing duo! Long live Tina and Amy’s reign…cheers!
4 out of 5 stars