SISTERS Review: Big on Laughs, Light on Substance


Sisters, which comes to us courtesy of Pitch Perfect director Jason Moore,  is the kind of movie that makes me question how to properly evaluate a comedy. I say this because all of the parts that don’t work seem so inconsequential when considered against how damn funny the movie really is. Sure, the first and third act seem stapled on because they could not justify releasing the party sequence as a feature length film. If Sisters failed to bring the comedy, this would work against it in a big way. However, as someone who was wiping away laughter induced tears for a large portion of the party sequence, I can fully understand wanting to build the rest of the movie around it.

The plot, thin though it may be, at least pays lip service to the theme of the danger of prolonged adolescence. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey play Maura and Kate Ellis,  a pair of sisters who can’t quite seem to nail being an adult.  Maura  (Poehler) is a straight laced square who is too busy looking after other people to look after herself and Kate is the train wreck who can’t seem to hold a job or be a mom. It probably won’t surprise you if I tell you that (spoilers) the Ellis sisters sort out their respective problems and both become slam dunk successes before the credits roll.

As I’ve said, the film’s structurally wonky. We spend just enough time with our main characters to learn what their problems are to meet characters who will show up at the big house party that they throw, the party itself takes up roughly an hour of screen time and then we get a quick resolution where everyone learns valuable life lessons. The party itself justifies the screen time it takes up. Fey and Poehler both afford themselves admirably, especially Fey who is more out of her comfort zone (she is essentially playing the anti Liz Lemon). Poehler delivers endearingly awkward questions and phrases as skillfully as Fey spits venom and crassly flirts. The supporting cast is all game to bring the laughs and energy as well. John Leguizamo is great as a washed up old flame of Kates’, Maya Rudolph is pompous and even cartoonishly villainous as an old rival of the sisters but she plays off of both of them well. The real MVP is Bobby Moynihan as Alex, the guy at the party who is always on. If you worry that this is a one joke character when you first meet him, you will likely be pleasantly surprised by how much laughs they wring out of him by the end of the movie.   

So, I think I can comfortably recommend Sisters. The gags are a riot, the comedic dialogue is sharp and it does not overstay its welcome. Given that all of 2015’s major comedies (with the possible exception of The Night Before, which I haven’t seen) have been a bust, this is likely to be the hardest you have laughed in the theater all year. 

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