There are a few people/acting teams out there that I will see just about anything they release. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are probably the top of that list. I find both of them incredibly hilarious on their own, and together, they’re even better. They started together in the Second City Comedy Troupe out of Chicago, went to Saturday Night Live together, where Tina became the first female head writer of the show, and then on to each have their own incredibly successful TV shows. You can Netflix both 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation now, and if you haven’t I strongly recommend that you do – they are both fantastic!
They previously worked together on the movie Baby Mama, which had a fairly thin premise, but shone when the two of them were able to work off one another.
Sisters, written by their friend and co-improviser Paula Pell (she played Paula on 30 Rock) and Directed by Jason Moore again has a fairly thin premise, but allows the two to bounce funny off one another for two hours.
Maura Ellis is slowly attempting to pull her life back together after a divorce two years ago. She’s a nurse with a lot of rigid hobbies. Her sister Kate, on the other hand, is a bit of a mess, can’t hold on to money (or a job) and is currently living with a friend of hers. Her teenage daughter, Haley, is more practical and can’t deal with her mother’s loose cannon ways, and so is staying with a responsible friend, but not telling her mother who that friend is.
Maura gets a message from their parents, Bucky and Deanna, that they are selling the house the girls grew up in Orlando – they’re moving into a retirement community and the house is just too big for them at this point. They ask the girls to come down and clean out their room. Kate has a full-out tantrum at that idea, and they decide to host one more “Ellis Island” party – inviting all their friends from high school, with Kate acting as the ‘party mom’ so that Maura can cut loose.
That’s pretty much it for the plot. Essentially, it’s an excuse to fill a room with crazy 80s nostalgia, and let Amy and Tina play around in there for a montage. Then, once the party gets going, it’s an excuse for them to do crazy party things with other comedians, almost like several short comedy sketches. They do run into the couple who is buying the house which makes them further convinced they can’t let go of the house. They also encounter Brinda – Kate’s high-school nemesis, Dave, an old party buddy, Pazuzu – a local drug dealer, and James – the handsome guy up the street who Maura invites to the party.
Of course, the party is a huge success, and results is basically destroying the house, which then the girls have to work to clean – as they learn the moral of the story – the house is just a building, but home is a feeling.
As I said, thin plot – but with this cast, you don’t need anything more:
- Amy Poehler plays Maura, and in a flip from the personas they had in Baby Mama, she’s the straightlaced one. She does a great job, and again – is best in scenes where she and Tina get to improv together.
- Tina plays Kate, the party animal. It was interesting to see Tina is this role, who is completely the opposite of her 30 Rock Liz Lemon persona. She really brought a quiet panic to Kate, who knows things are falling apart around her, but doesn’t have the confidence that she can do anything about it.
- Maya Rudolph plays Brinda – the nemesis. She gets a few scenes to be really bitchy and fun while attempting to break into the party she has been banned from.
- Ike Barinholtz plays James, and if you’re only familiar with him from MadTV and the Mindy Project, it was at first difficult to buy him as the ‘handsome boyfriend’ type, but he does a really good job and plays it very understated. Who knew he was capable of that?!
- James Brolin and Diane Wiest play the parents, Bucky and Deana – they are really excited to be moving on ward with their lives, and disappointed that their daughters are preventing that transition. They get a few scenes to be really funny as well - I especially love the scene where they are Skyping with Maura and pretend to be frozen to get out of the rest of the conversation.
- John Leguizamo plays Dave, the local guy who seems to be in exactly the same spot he was in High school – he’s the dude who comes to the party with the hopes it will be exactly the same.
- John Cena plays Pazuzu, and his scenes with Tina as she gradually hits on him were really fantastic.
- Bobby Moynihan plays Alex, the weird guy from high school who is always making jokes, even though none of them are funny. He does a great job at being really exhausting.
- Greta Lee plays Hae-Won, the nail salon employee that Maura feels bad for, and so invites to the party. She ends up bringing all her friends, and they help get the event going, not to mention create a foam party in the laundry room.
- Rachel Dratch plays Kelly – the ladies really depressed friend – it’s almost her Debbie Downer character, just at a party.
Overall, the story is not that strong, but again – you’re not going to this movie for the story. You’re going to see two great friends and comedians make you laugh – which they will!
7 out of 10, Gained points for John Cena – who between this and Trainwreck is starting to be a go to in R rated comedies. Lost points for the complete and utter destruction done to the house during the party. I guess I’m way too much of an adult for all that, because I just keep thinking how they would never be able to get that cleaned up!
Bonus – Tina and Amy should host everything….