Review: Sisters

A lot of outrageous things happen in “Sisters” but the most ridiculous by far has nothing to do with the ever escalating antics on screen. No, it is the sight of adults dancing at a house party. Talk about suspension of disbelief! Or maybe I don’t go to enough parties?

“Sisters” is a coming of age story wrapped in a house party movie starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as sisters Kate and Maura Ellis. Kate’s impulsiveness and irresponsibility have landed her jobless, homeless, and in a strained relationship with her daughter while Maura is hyper responsible and compulsively helpful. The two are horrified to learn their parents have sold their childhood home and, tasked with cleaning out their old bedrooms, decide to throw one last party to help them say goodbye. Hi-jinks ensue. Damage is done. Lessons are learned. You’ve seen this movie before.

The good news is “Sisters” doesn’t have to be original, it has to be funny. And boy is it funny. Sure, the laughs are slower during the set-up, but the party that makes up the bulk of the film keeps them coming fast - so fast that you might not notice when a joke doesn’t work. If you do notice, you might not care because the cast is just so fun to watch.

This is in no small part due to the raw talent of the leading ladies. Even when the script doesn’t quite hold up, the charm oozing from the screen saves the day. Fey and Poehler are, as always, delightful. Their natural chemistry translates into a believable on-screen sibling relationship and half the fun of this movie is just watching them react to things; their consistently perfect delivery and just-right timing left me in stitches.

Fey and Poehler’s supporting cast is great too. Dianne Wiest and James Brolin turn in hilarious performances as the pair’s parents whose dreams of a carefree retirement are perpetually frustrated by their children’s clinginess and general inability to live their own lives. Ike Barinholtz is irresistibly likable as kind-hearted neighbor James. Maya Rudolf plays Brinda, Kate’s childhood nemesis and persistent party crasher. Once the party gets into full swing, a small parade of SNL cast and alumni arrive. And can we talk about John Cena? I won’t spoil it, but following his side-splitting appearance in “Trainwreck,” the pro-wrestler has some of the best moments of the movie.

Speaking of “Trainwreck,” this movie isn’t that. Amy Schumer’s Golden Globe-nominated blockbuster deftly combined her intelligent-yet-vulgar comedy with a smart, genuinely heartfelt story. The movie moves you as much as it makes you laugh. One of my favorite scenes in “Sisters” is a sweet moment near the end of the film about a kitchen sink - you’ll know it when you see it. It’s a reminder that comedy is often elevated by sincere and truthful moments. “Sisters” misses an opportunity by flirting with, but never fully committing to, that sincerity.

All told, “Sisters” is a film with plenty of laughs and more than a few cringes that doesn’t take itself very seriously and doesn’t expect you to either. Sure, the plot is flimsy and the party seems to be dutifully checking off the requisite home damages that must occur before this kind of movie can end, but it’s all just so damn fun. “Sisters” revels in its ridiculousness and the cast is clearly having a blast. It’s contagious. I couldn’t help but laugh.

2015 shaped into a solid year for comedies owing largely to the strength of films fueled by girl power. Women on-screen, in the writers room, or in the director’s chair delivered some of the funniest movies of the year. “Sisters” is a respectable conclusion to a year that gave us “Spy,” “Trainwreck,” and “Pitch Perfect 2.” Boys, take some notes.

Score: 3.5/5

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