Sisters looks like it’s going to be the comedy of the season. It’s written by funny people (Paula Pell from SNL), directed by funny people (Jason Moore from Pitch Perfect) and stars funny people (Tina Fey and Amy Poehler). So, does it stand up to its pedigree?
Sisters stars Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, John Leguizamo, Ike Barinholtz and John Cena and is directed by Jason Moore. The film follows sisters Katie (Fey) and Maura (Poehler) as they return to their childhood home to throw one last party.
First off, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are great. The two actresses have amazing chemistry and are able to bounce well off each other throughout the entire film. The film works well when it sits back and we watch them try and catch their long lost childhood by reading their old diaries or dancing around to 80s classics. The funniest lines are the small one-liners that look they were just ad-libbed, with the rest of the script being rather witless.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some good jokes. John Cena, in his second comedy role this year, knocks it out of the park as drug-seller Pazuzu. His introductory scene, where he lists off the different drugs that he has to sell is incredibly funny. For the rest of the film he remains virtually silent, towering over the rest of the guests and throwing out death-stares to anyone who tries to talk to him, but whenever he does open his mouth, he usually has an excellent one-liner. Another good sequence in the film involves Maura’s childhood music box and a local heartthrob, James (Barinholtz) who Maura invites to the party. While the base of the joke is rather puerile, Poehler and Barinholtz manage to keep the remnant of a good joke together, although it ends rather abruptly, before leaving the film and it’s implications at the door.
The main problem is that Sisters is trying to hit so many film party staples. The BBFC lists the films as having “very strong language, strong sex references and drug use”, and while it does feature copious amounts of all three, none of them feel as good as other films that did it better or did it first. The obvious comparison is with Animal House, but there are other nods such as 21 And Over and Bad Neighbours. The film is at it’s best when it’s subverting the tropes in these films (the main difference is that all the party attendees are safely into middle age) but sadly Sisters just seems content with aping every other party film. I’m certain you could cut the montage moments from Sisters and switch them with the ones from 21 And Over and no-one would be able to see the difference.
The film builds and builds over the ridiculously long running time, but it doesn’t have the brains to keep up. Soon into the party phase, the film just goes over-board, throwing situations out and hoping one of them will get a laugh. It gets to a low point with an incongruous Scarface reference and wanton destruction that just feels really forced. Sisters tries and keeps the audience laughing by giving every character a bucketful of swear words in between the set pieces, but these soon just turn into childish attempts to seem adult. Swearing does not make a film mature. It only makes a joke funny by the set-up; randomly shouting out rude words won’t get many laughs beyond the first couple.
In summary, Sisters had a good line-up of talented people, but the script really brings down the end product. There are some good moments and jokes but not enough of them to make it a worthy watch.
Score: 5/10 Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have done much better comedy.