Friday, December 11, 2015

"Sisters" -- Movie Review

This week, I attended a New York Times Film Club screening of the new comedy, "Sisters", starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.  


When two embattled adult sisters learn their parents have sold their childhood home, they throw a party -- but will this resolve their issues or only serve to create new ones?


Having immersed herself in her nursing career following her divorce, Maura (Poehler) hears from her parents that they are selling their house as they've moved into to a retirement community for senior citizens.  Maura is devastated because this was the childhood home she shared with her older sister Kate (Fey) and the place holds many memories.  Nevertheless, she is instructed by her parents that she and Kate must clean out the belongings from their rooms.  Knowing how emotionally immature Kate can be at times, Maura informs her parents that she will assume the responsibility of breaking the news to her big sister and that they should not say a word to her.

Once the two arrive back home, Maura tells Kate the news, but both are shocked to learn that the house has already been sold to a young couple who wish to perform extensive renovations on the old place.  Totally distraught by the sudden realization that they will lose their childhood memory to strangers, Maura and Kate decide to throw the party to end all parties in order to bid farewell to the house and symbolically, their childhood.  They quickly get in touch with former neighborhood friends and some of their ex-schoolmates; the reception is overwhelming and before long, the house is filled to the rafters with people -- many of whom they know and others who've somehow managed to crash the party.

Eventually, the truth comes out about Kate's situation:  Kate was hoping that both she and her estranged daughter could move into the house because she was recently thrown out of the apartment she shared with a roommate.  It turns out that Kate has never developed a stable, responsible lifestyle as she can't hold down a job, which is what caused the distance from her daughter.  Meanwhile, Maura has developed something of a crush on a new neighbor, James (Ike Barinholtz), who is among the many partiers.  The only problem is that she's still feeling a bit stung by her divorce and is unable to get on with her life.  The guests get crazy, causing the party to spin quickly out of control, essentially ruining the house.  With the closing of the house imminent, can the sisters repair it in time or will their parents' sale fall through?


Just about the only thing wrong with “Sisters” is the fact that it eventually ends -- that’s how much fun this movie is. The party these two women throw is so out of control wild, you’ll wind up wishing you would have been invited. For those of us who believe Tina & Amy can do no wrong, “Sisters” is two hours of unbridled pleasure. While they are not credited with writing the screenplay, you definitely get the sense that there may have been a good deal of improvisation during the shoot because so much of the humor has the feel of the Fey-Poehler touch (they are, however, credited as being co-Executive Producers, so that may be the answer right there). In any event, whatever they did here worked out wonderfully and shame on you if you don’t see this one right away.

A successful film director once said that casting is 90% of the job -- if you get the casting right, you greatly enhance the chances that you’ll make a good movie. “Sisters” really does get the casting right; there are plenty of familiar faces both from current and past “Saturday Night Live” casts. Thanks to that and some really top-notch jokes, “Sisters” provides plentiful opportunities to laugh yourself silly. If there is anything negative about “Sisters” -- and this is splitting hairs, somewhat -- it’s the outtakes that they include during the end credits. First of all, this practice has become stunningly trite to the point that it’s either boring or annoying. Secondly, the outtakes themselves are extremely hit-or-miss (to put it mildly), so they’re not exactly worth sitting through the credits.

Is this movie opening at the right time? An argument could be made either way. In one sense, it’s coming out at the perfect time; given the stress people tend to experience during the holidays, this is tailor-made to allow you to laugh and let off steam. On the other hand, its release could not come at the worst possible time because it opens on the exact same day as the new “Star Wars” film; “Sisters” will likely do little business that weekend, if any at all -- which is a genuine shame because it’s so wonderful. Folks connected with “Sisters” are promoting their movie by saying, “See our movie on opening weekend -- you can always see ‘Star Wars’ the following weekend when the theaters are less crowded”. They’re absolutely right. The new “Star Wars” is certain to be in theaters for a while; check out “Sisters” before you start counting the wrinkles on Han Solo’s neck.

Sisters (2015) on IMDb

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