Director: Jason Moore
Major Players: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, James Brolin, Dianne Wiest
Out Of Five: 3
They are the number one female comedy double act. Tina Fey’s biggest claim to fame had been her Sarah Palin impersonation, while Amy Poehler was most familiar from Parks And Recreation. But hosting the Golden Globes for the past three years has turned them into the dream team, so it’s no surprise to see them moving on to the big screen.
But in Sisters, they’re playing something against type. Fey is the older, unpredictable and unreliable one, while it’s Poehler who’s the more stable one, always wanting to help others – whether they want her to or not. Their retired parents (James Brolin and Dianne Wiest) have a very nice house in Orlando, but decide to sell up and move into a community for older people. Their daughters are devastated at the thought of all their childhood memories being boxed up, so head down to Florida to change their parent’s minds. Discovering an empty and sold house, they decide to say goodbye to it in style – one last house party for all the people they went to school with.
And, by a remarkable coincidence, they all still live locally and are free on that one night. So, while the cats are away, the 40-somethings will play in a last-ditch attempt to re-live their riotous teenage years – even though at the start of the party they’re all sat around talking about their operations, family deaths and children. Fey, against her better nature, has agreed to be party mom, which means she can’t drink – but she can also liven up the party as well. With a funky DJ and, courtesy of lecherous school friend Dave (John Leguizamo), a muscle bound drug dealer (John Cena).
I honestly didn’t expect to think much of this. From the trailer, it looked like a crude vehicle to get Fey and Poehler back together. It’s certainly a vehicle, it’s definitely crude and it’s unlikely to win any awards, but there were definitely moments when I found myself laughing – at times, very much out loud. It wasn’t against my better judgement – and it was nothing to do with the cocktails served before the screening, as I stuck to the elderflower.
We all know that Fey and Poehler are a whip-smart double act and, although they’re supposed to be playing against type here, there are times when they do revert to their more familiar personae, so we’re not always seeing something we didn’t know already. They are, essentially, on form and do the job. But some of the funniest moments either come from or involve the supporting characters. John Cena is better known as a WWE star, which means he has the physique to match. As the party’s drug dealer, he’s covered in tattoos, has a bag full of stuff from meth to ibuprofen and everything in between, hardly cracks a smile and has some terrific one-liners which he delivers with aplomb. He’s genuinely a hoot.
As is Adrian Martinez as Alex, who starts out as profoundly irritating – until he accidentally snorts a large quantity of white powder that originated from Cena’s bag. And then he goes completely bananas. We only see glimpses of him, but they’re more than enough and they’re screamingly funny.
There is also one other scene which is the comic highlight of the film: it kinda makes your eyes water and it makes you laugh out loud. It involves one of those revolving musical ballerinas that you find on top of jewellery boxes, only this one goes solo and ends up causing affable neighbour James (Ike Barinoltz) a huge amount of discomfort. The music doesn’t stop, nor does it stop revolving ……. nor does it stop him being the love interest that Poehler’s been looking for throughout the film.
As comedies go, this is fair to middling. Grandma came out today and, to be honest, is way superior on all levels. But if you just want some fun and a laugh – it’s definitely for the grown-ups, by the way – then you won’t go far wrong. Even though it’s two hours, and even though there are some jokes that go on for just too long, I didn’t look at my watch once.
Sisters is released on Saturday, 12 December and reviewed on Talking Pictures on Thursday, 17 December