Whether individually on their (now retired) TV projects ’30 Rock’ and ‘Parks and Recreation’ or as the critically hilarious double act hosts of the Golden Globe Awards, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are the type of fearless performers that command attention thanks to their self-deprecating wit and vanity-free mentality. Though they’ve shared the cinema screen before in 2008’s lightweight laugher ‘Baby Mama’, ‘Sisters’ arrives at a period in their careers when demand, and recognition, for the duo is at its peak, and whilst the two deserve a script that’s sharper and smarter than what we are presented with, there’s no denying their unique delivery and natural chemistry help elevate this still supremely funny romp above its weight.
Initially the film takes a little while to settle into its own groove but once it does, it’s essentially a-joke-a-minute affair with Fey and Poehler playing a pair of mismatched siblings who travel back to their childhood home when they learn that their increasingly frisky parents are selling up and moving on to enjoy the spoils of retirement. As they nostalgically travel through their teen years as they clean-up their old bedroom – the likes of Michael J. Fox and ‘Xanadu’ getting neat shout outs in the process – Fey’s rebellious, irresponsible Kate floats the idea of throwing one last house party in a bid to allow Poehler’s more straight-laced Maura the chance to “let her freak flag fly”. And so begins the party to end them all.
Serving up relentless vulgarity, endless profanity (Dianne Weist as the duo’s mother manages a pearler of a curse towards the closing moments) and enough over-the-top comedy to cover two feature lengths, ‘Sisters’ works as well as it does because of both its leads and the daring cast they have surrounded themselves with, many of whom worked with Fey and Poehler on the long-running sketch program ‘Saturday Night Live’; the highlight of which is Maya Rudolph, dropping hilarious facial expressions as a snooty suburban type who earns one of the film’s biggest laughs with the simplest mention of a forgotten starlet’s faux perfume range and where it can be acquired.
As loud as the film gets though it’s the quieter moments that director Jason Moore (‘Pitch Perfect’) excels at evoking the bigger laughs with the unexpectedly hilarious John Cena (continuing his fine work after ‘Trainwreck’ earlier this year) pulling focus as a quietly intense drug dealer who takes a liking to Fey, and the simplest of interactions between Poehler and her manicurist (scene-stealer Greta Lee) regarding the pronunciation of each other’s names is so sublimely outlandish that it’s not hard to see why Poehler could hardly contain herself during the end credit outtakes.
Now more than ever it’s obvious that studios are embracing the idea of female-lead comedy, and thankfully audiences are maintaining the trend as ‘Sisters’ is another example of girl-powered humour that’s universally acknowledged as genuinely funny.
‘Sisters’ is in cinemas from January 7th 2016