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Sisters – Movie Review

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Sisters – Movie Review

Rating: B- (Okay)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Universal Pictures

The pairing of two great comedic actresses should, more often than not, lead to a funny movie. Sisters shows how well Tina Fey and Amy Poehler work together, but the script seems intent on dragging out a basic premise. Since the rise of Judd Apatow, it appears that two hour comedies are becoming more prevalent, despite being a genre best served by a ninety minute runtime. After so much partying and hijinks, the wild antics featured in Sisters grow tiring and the humour becomes stale. Fey and Poehler can only elevate the material by so much and make it sustain an entire feature film.

Despite Fey and Poehler’s humour mostly consisting of witty asides and the straight woman in a wacky world, the comedy in Paula Pell’s screenplay is a tad less intelligent than we have come to expect from them. Both of their characters are portrayed as not particularly bright, with Poehler’s Maura being the slightly more mature of the two. It’s a credit to Fey and Poehler’s talents that there is a genuineness to their performances and they manage to make the character moments work better than the material handed to them. One almost wonders what would have happened if both of them handled the scripting duties on Sisters.

Most of Sisters consists of a lengthy party scene that goes on for a very long time. Too long, as it starts to annoy after a while. The sequence begins humorously as the adults act like regular people, much to the confusion of Maura and Kate. There are also some occasionally funny bits sprinkled through this portion of the film, especially when Poehler and Ike Barinholtz’s friendly neighbour connect. There are also a couple of humourous bits involving Bobby Moynihan as an old school chum and his failed attempts at being the life of the party. However, this joke is subsequently run into the ground.

Maya Rudolph’s acting decisions are the strangest ones. At first, she’s somewhat funny as a uppity upper-class rival, but Rudolph starts playing the role far too broadly and over-the-top. Most of her performance is based on exaggerated facial expressions that are more cringe inducing than they are humourous. The more raunchy elements of the script also don’t entirely gel and occasionally feel forced. What ultimately makes Sisters disappointing, aside from the hit-or-miss comedy, is the length. Being a comedy set mostly during a ridiculous house party, it overstays its welcome at almost two hours. There’s a good half-hour that could have been cut from the film to make it a leaner and ultimately more successful comedy. It reaches a point where it just becomes tiring.

Through Sisters, there’s also an attempt at an emotional subplot between Kate and her estranged daughter, but it feels nudged into the script to give it some extra pathos. As a whole, the film is a mixed bag. The bloopers during the end credits reveal the amount of improvisation and extra takes filmed for Sisters, which suggests there was a fear of cutting too much. However, timing is the key to great comedy and this is a gag that runs far too long. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are only able to make it slightly funnier, but they deserve better material and they have even written much funnier scripts themselves. With them headlining a comedy, there are very high expectations and this doesn’t come close to reaching them.

Stefan Ellison

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