Amy Poehler and Tina Fey bring us what I think may be the world’s first coming-of-middle-age comedy (whoa, hey). Sisters follows, you guessed it, two sisters who come to realize what’s important to them over the course of a crazy party. The formula is definitely familiar if you’ve seen any “last big party” movies and the regular list of go-to gags are all here. Someone who isn’t going to drink—drinks? Check. Someone accidentally takes drugs? Yup. Someone who isn’t allowed in at the party keeps sneaking in? Of course! Don’t get me wrong, and that doesn’t make Sisters a bad movie, but it’s not going to shock you with any unexpected turns. The big idea for Sisters seems to be to take a stereotypical teenage plot and add adults with adult problems. Truly, this is where the most interesting parts of the movie come through and break up the formula.
Poehler’s Maura Ellis is one career change away from being an exact copy of her character Leslie Knope from Parks & Recreation, so if you’ve been suffering for a fix of Knope since the series ended, you’ll like Maura, even if her tendency to over-plan and not live in the moment are played down ever so slightly from Knope levels. Fey’s Kate Ellis is the opposite of her previous television roles. Kate is wild, creates problems wherever she goes, can’t hold down a job, and at the beginning of the film is more or less homeless. The only problem with Kate is that her very adult problems are very easily solved or solved off-screen. Kate embodies the main thing wrong with Sisters: there are no real stakes. At no point does it feel like there will be any real consequences for anything that happens to our titular duo. Maybe it’s Fey and Poehler’s abundance of confidence that makes them funny while also seeming fairly invincible.
Paula Pell’s script is clearly just an engine for the duo to have fun, a skeleton for the cast to give life to—and the whole time it looks like they are having a blast. The entire cast pulls their weight, including a very energetic Bobby Moynihan and a surprisingly funny John Cena. No joke, no meme John Cena shows up. If you haven’t seen the trailer, you are going to have a much better time than those of us who did see it, as a lot of the movie’s best gags are spoiled in the trailer. Directed by Pitch Perfect’s Jason Moore, don’t expect much in the way of spectacular visuals. Sisters suffers from the same problem of many modern comedies—it sacrifices complex camera work and visuals to allow the cast to improv. The camera remains mostly still and captures very standard coverage of every scene.
If you’re a fan of Poehler and Fey, you won’t be disappointed. Whether or not most of the dialogue is improv-ed, much of it feels natural and on the spot, and Fey and Poehler are on their A game when it comes to one-liners. It’s like listening to a good cover of a song you really like—while it’s fun, you’ve heard it before.
Written by: T.J. Hunt