Dog’s Movie House: “Sisters” Raunchy Fun From Fey And Poehler!
Howdy Folks! It’s The Kendog!
Now if you’re one of the few people not lining up to see the new Star Wars movie, you do actually have a decent option at the theaters. In what I consider to be a nice spot of counterprogramming we have the new comedy “Sisters” featuring Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. There are laughs a plenty and a considerable amount of heart, along with another funny supporting performance by WWE wrestler John Cena that nearly steals the show. If Jedi or space battles aren’t your thing the “Sisters” just might serve as a viable alternative.
“Sisters” revolves around Maura Ellis (Poehler) and her older sister Kate (Fey), two siblings who are messed up for all different kinds of reasons. Maura is a bit anal retentive and feels the need to take care of everyone regardless of actual need. Kate is flaky wild child who is much less mature than her high school-aged daughter Haley (Madison Davenport). Things go from bad to worse when their parents (a wonderfully paired James Brolin and Dianne Wiest) decide to sell the family home in Orlando. This leads to the two sisters heading home and in the midst of packing their rooms, coming upon the idea of having one last party before leaving for good. Dubbed “The Ellis Island Parties” these soirees were epic during high school and Maura and Kate make a desperate attempt to recapture the magic of their youth. And if the crowd of partygoers happens to damage the place enough to make it unsellable, well, all the better.
“Sisters” has some very funny moments in it, although the script is a bit inconsistent at times. The payoff in the form of the actual party is better than the setup that precedes it and once the shindig gets rolling, director Jason Moore (“Pitch Perfect”) really has a good time with it. Paula Pell’s screen story may have some speedbumps in terms of laughs, but she does manage to get the emotional connections, specifically between Kate and Maura, exactly right. Don’t get me wrong, “Sisters” isn’t really going to pull on anyone’s heartstrings, but there’s a warmth and affection underneath the raunchy proceedings that gives the audience more than just a laugh filled time at the movies.
It’s nice to see the reversal of roles between Poehler and Fey. Fey makes a great wild child and it’s nice to see her eschew the straight-laced, controlled persona in favor of someone who’s never really in control of their own impulses. Meanwhile Poehler is great as the uptight, frustrated sister who wants to, as she says “let her freak flag fly” but doesn’t really know how. That lack of letting go reveals itself in hilarious ways, especially when dealing with her handsome handyman neighbor James (a game and charming Ike Barinholtz). Let’s just say the bit with the ballerina music box plays just as funny in the film as it does in the trailers.
The supporting cast does good work here as well, with Maya Rudolph taking top honors as the hoity-toity former classmate who attempts to sabotage the proceedings in order to get back at the sisters for not inviting her to the party. Some of her dialogue is flat-out hilarious and she was able to get more laughs out of our audience with just a haughty expression than many comedians could with a joke filled monologue. Also worth noting is the performance of Bobby Moynihan as Alex. Alex starts off as the guy who is the only one in the room who thinks he’s funny, but his arc involving drugs, more drugs, and a female Korean pedicurist is one of the funniest in the film. Props to John Leguizamo for making an alcoholic slacker funny as well.
The guy who really stands out in “Sisters” is John Cena. Coming off his hilarious performance in “Trainwreck” Cena plays Pazuzu, a monster-sized (yet organized) drug dealer brought in by Leguizamo’s Dave to liven up the party. Cena, covered in monstrous tattoos and sporting a steely-eyed gaze, is absolutely priceless. Like Rudolph, Cena gets as many laughs for the expertly timed pauses as he does for any of the jokes that come out of his mouth. He’s not in the film much, but John Cena is rapidly earning a reputation as a sterling comic presence in the movies. I can’t wait to see what he does next.
All in all, “Sisters” isn’t perfect. Some of the bits last too long and some of the jokes don’t always work, but the film has far more plusses than minuses, and two great female leads to help anchor the film. If Star Wars isn’t your bag and you want a raunchy, adult alternative, make “Sisters” a date night movie and you won’t be disappointed. 3 ½ Out Of 5 On Kendog’s Barkometer! So Sayeth The Kendog!
“Sisters” is Rated R for crude sexual content and language throughout, and for drug use.