Take a Drink: every time someone says “Ellis Island.”
Take a Drink: Big Lots
Take a Drink: for every 80’s or 90’s song.
Do a Shot: if you remember when those songs came out and can identify the artist. You’re old, you deserve it! (Shoutout to T’Pau!)
Take a Drink: for every former or current Saturday Night Live cast member cameo
Take Drink: every time Tina Fey drops an F-bomb
Take a Drink: for every shot of the giant penis graffiti
Take a Drink: obligatory slow-motion party scene
Take a Drink: at every lame joke Bobby Moynihan’s character makes
Last Call: Of course there’s an end credits gag reel! Stick around; it’s the funniest part of the movie.
By BabyRuth (three beers)
Not so fast there, Schumer and J-Law, everyone’s favorite Golden Globes hosts, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, aren’t ready to give up their crowns as comedy’s reigning BFFs just yet.
Fey and Poehler play forty-something sisters Kate and Maura Ellis who couldn’t be any more opposite, as tends to be the case with movie siblings. Recently divorced Maura (Poehler) has always taken care of others. She spent her teenage years as the dependable designated driver and “party mom,” and went on to become a nurse. Reserved and introverted, her idea of a wild night usually involves some kind of arts and crafts project.
Kate (Fey), on the other hand, is hard-partying and foul-mouthed, living in a constant state of arrested development. She is unable to hold down a job or a residence and her far more mature teenage daughter (Madison Davenport) is embarrassed of her.
The two return to their childhood home in Orlando after learning their parents (James Brolin and Diane Wiest) have put the house on the market and moved into a retirement community. While going through their old room, Kate and Maura reminisce on their high school days and soon get the idea to have one last raging party before the new snooty, rich owners take possession of the house. What could possibly go wrong?
Fans of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler excited to see the two raunch it up and riff off each other will not be disappointed. It’s obvious they’re having a blast together; at times it seems like the whole movie is little more than an excuse for them to hang out, which most fans likely won’t mind in the least. Though the women look nothing alike, they are completely believable as sisters, having the type of chemistry that only comes with decades of knowing someone extremely well.
Viewers may expect to see Poehler as the immature, wild-child and Fey as the straight-laced do-gooder, but they switch it up this time. It’s a refreshing role reversal, though a later scene when the two temporarily shift to their more familiar personas (Poehler’s character is intoxicated and out of control, while Fey’s needs to be the responsible one) only exemplifies how much better it works that way. Still, it’s fun to watch Tina Fey go balls (and boobs) out for a change.
“I got your sisters for ya right here!”
The supporting cast is a welcome mix of familiar faces. Unshockingly, many former and current Saturday Night Live performers (Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Bobby Moynihan, and Kate McKinnon) make an appearance. They revel in their roles, most of which are ridiculous and one-note, not unlike those we’re used to seeing them play in SNL sketches, so it’s fitting in a way.
Another sketch-comedy veteran, Ike Barinholtz (of MadTV and also a peer of Fey and Poehler’s from their Chicago improv days), is funny and charming as Poehler’s love interest/handyman neighbor, James. This was a very pleasant surprise as I never pictured Barinholtz as a leading man before, but he fits the bill extremely well. Hopefully this is the beginning of more roles of this type for him.
Holding his own with the comedy heavyweights is John Cena, who has certainly been on a roll lately in transitioning from professional wrestling to film after a memorable performance in Trainwreck. Once again, Cena proves he’s more than just muscles, showing impressive comedic chops in the role of a stoic drug dealer whose safe word is “keep going.” Like many of the other actors in this movie, Cena is trusted to adlib several of his lines, and the results are hilarious. As a longtime WWE viewer, it’s great to see him branching out and nailing it, especially after being confined to his stale “Superman” wrestling gimmick for years.
WWE’s idea of “comedy.”
John Leguizamo hams it up as an old classmate of Kate and Maura’s and is as fun to watch as usual, as are James Brolin and Diane Wiest.
The jokes are often hit or miss, but there are several laugh out loud moments including two dance routines and, of course, the ballerina music box scene (unfortunately spoiled by the trailer). I previously called for a moratorium on ballerina jewelry boxes in movies (see Beer Two), but I’m all for it in this case.
Though much of the film consists of Fey and Poehler’s improvisation, neither had a hand in writing the screenplay (that credit goes to Saturday Night Live writer Paula Pell). I can only wonder what the end result would have been if they had been more involved. The plot itself is pretty much a generic by-the-numbers party movie. It’s fun, but also kind of a bummer because it often relies on lowest common denominator humor and rarely feels like anything more than the cast playing 80s teen movie make-believe.
At 118 minutes, Sisters stays a little too long at the party, or rather, before and after it. Some additional editing of everything leading up to and following the pivotal set piece would have helped.
Many of the gags go on longer than needed, particularly those involving Bobby Moynihan’s character, an always on, self-proclaimed class clown who thinks he’s funnier than he actually is. The joke is that he is supposed to be grating and exhausting, but the joke itself becomes grating and exhausting, even more so once he unknowingly ingests a large amount of a potent drug cocktail.
It’s too bad, because a little less Moynihan would have given other cast members more opportunities to shine. Speaking of, Kate McKinnon (a.k.a. the best thing about current Saturday Night Live) is tragically underused. Let’s hope Ghostbusters doesn’t make the same mistake.
Though it’s predictable and doesn’t break any new ground, Sisters works for the most part because of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s infectious chemistry. The supporting cast adds to the fun, making the film a worthwhile watch once you’re burnt out on the new Star Wars (if that’s possible).