Friday, December 18, 2015

Sisters

3.5/4

Starring: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Ike Barinholtz, James Brolin, Dianne Wiest, John Leguizamo, John Cena, Madison Davenport

Rated R for Crude Sexual Content and Language Throughout, and for Drug Use

"Sisters" is funny.  Not subversively or understated funny.  Just plain funny.  I laughed.  And laughed.  And laughed some more.  And when I thought I couldn't laugh any longer, that's when the movie really gets going.

Kate (Fey) and Maura (Poehler) are sisters and best friends.  They're also middle-aged, but have the maturity level of someone half that.  Kate has a full-grown daughter named Hayley (Davenport) who is much more grown up than she is and has been away for a month.  Maura still hasn't gotten over her divorce two years ago.  But when their parents Bucky (Brolin) and Deana (Wiest) decide to sell the home they grew up in to a snobby yuppie couple from New York, they're furious.  While packing up their rooms, they realize that good-girl Maura never had a party where she could let loose, so they decide to have one final bash with their high school friends to say good-bye to the place.  Kate also sees this as an opportunity for Maura to hit it off with James (Barinholtz), the hunky neighbor.

It makes sense that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler would do a movie like this.  Both are able comediennes and close friends in real life.  This is just the natural extension of their off-screen friendship.  While not necessarily a "classic" duo, they make a good team and play off each other with ease.  What the script lacks in character development and sharp dialogue, Fey and Poehler make up for with their comic timing and delivery.

This is definitely their show, but they're given a strong supporting cast.  Leading the pack is Ike Barinholtz.  Not only does he look the part (he's good-looking, but not impossibly so), he has enough warmth to make him credible as a romantic lead.  And he has good chemistry with Poehler.  And John Cena earns a lot of mileage playing a stone-faced drug dealer.  Finally, the sight of James Brolin and Dianne Wiest playing randy empty nesters with foul mouths is worth the price of admission in and of itself.

Sadly, the film occasionally falls into the trap of many modern comedies: comic riffs that overstay their welcome.  Unlike Seth Rogen's schtick (which has no point or focus), these actually pay off, but a little tightening would have made them work better.

"Sisters" is being offered as counter-programming to "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."  Universal is hoping to score big money from people who don't want to see the new "Star Wars" film (are there such people?), people who have already seen it, or people who couldn't get tickets to it and are already at the theater.  The good news is that this movie is good enough to warrant a trip to the theater just to see it, and not as some sort of consolation alternative.

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