Saturday 2 March 2019

Movie Review: Sisters (2015)

A raunchy comedy, Sisters benefits from sharp timing and chemistry of the two leads, but is otherwise one long endless scene of adults behaving badly.

Maura and Kate Ellis (Amy Poehler and Tina Fey) are sisters still trying to sort out their lives. Maura is divorced and has always placed everybody else's happiness ahead of hers. Kate is irresponsible, cannot hold a job and is a single mom to teenager Haley (Madison Davenport). They are both shocked and disappointed when their parents (James Brolin and Dianne Wiest) announce plans to sell the family home in Orlando.

While cleaning out their childhood rooms Maura and Kate decide to have one final bash in the big house and invite all their friends, but pointedly exclude Brinda (Maya Rudolph), Kate's frenemy since high school. The party is well attended but muted, until the alcohol and drugs start flowing and it turns into a raucous event. Kate is desperate to hook up with hunky handyman James (Ike Barinholtz), but the night will only get wilder and there are many scores to settle.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are a funny and fearless couple, share undeniable rapport and are unafraid to let loose and laugh at themselves. However, Sisters is unfortunately beneath them. The Paula Pell script works its way in fits and starts to the big party scene, and that is where it stays. There is some fun to be had with adults partying as if they were 20 years younger, but once the rowdy and juvenile antics take over the film quickly runs out of steam.

The funnier moments are the side quests burrowing deep into irreverence, such as Maura and Korean aesthetician Hae Won (Greta Lee) descending into an ill considered but hilarious pronunciation duel, or bad girl Kate drooling over tree trunk armed drug dealer Pazuzu (John Cena).

Every 15 minutes or so director Jason Moore briefly pauses the raunchiness for a brief interlude featuring more tender interaction, either between the sisters or exploring the dysfunctionality dominating the mother-daughter bond between Haley and Kate. The attempts to tackle themes of growing up and settling down appear slapped together and never convince, with James Brolin and Dianne Wiest reduced to caricatures in the parent roles.

The Sisters are ready and willing to deliver laughs, but need a more ambitious venue than one long night of irresponsibility.

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