Cinematic Releases: Sisters

Sisters. A movie about sisters. Imagine that.

"We'll take 12 cases of XXL condoms,
a ten gallon drum of Vaseline,
a box of surgical gloves,
and a glazed donut....TO GO!!"
Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace opened on May 19, 1999.  The only other major release that week was a low budget romantic comedy called The Love Letter.  In fact, big-budget movies are absent from the schedule the week before and after the release of Episode I, which considering that the following weekend is Memorial Day is saying something.  But times have changed in 16 years, and rival studios are no longer afraid to counter-program against even the biggest and most anticipated films.  Which is why Universal, who has a pretty great track record with female-oriented comedy of late (Bridesmaids, Trainwreck, Pitch Perfect) is facing off against the unstoppable juggernaut that is Star Wars: The Force Awakens with its latest comedy, Sisters.

Sisters reunites SNL-alums-turned-superstars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as sisters who return to their childhood home and decide to throw one last party before the house is sold.  Predictably, chaos ensues.  An R-rated comedy through and through, Sisters is packed with enough hilarious moments that the viewer could occasionally miss a joke or two while laughing at the last one.  Fey and Poehler's effortless chemistry is bolstered by a great supporting cast, led by top notch performances by fellow SNL alums Maya Rudolph and Bobby Moynahan and a particularly funny turn by WWE superstar John Cena.  Sisters is a movie that has a lot going for it.

"Sadly,steroids have ruined these types
of parties for me."

Unfortunately, some of this at times rings a bit hollow.  If there's a weak link in the cast, it's surprisingly the leads.  Poehler is the more convincing of the two, but she just seems to be playing a more toned down, slightly less organized Leslie Knope.  Meanwhile, Fey seems at times a bit out of her element as the lackadaisical, wild sister (which Poehler herself played better in their film Baby Mama).  A film like Sisters can live or die on the strength of its overall themes, and this is also where it comes up a little weak.  Superior films like Bridesmaids knew how to balance its comedy with strong themes about adulthood, which Sisters aspires to but never quite succeeds on the same level.  The jokes are great, but Sisters tries to wring more out of its themes than it can really handle.

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Sisters does have its issues, and perhaps its heart isn't as big as it would like to think it is, but for sheer entertainment value it works.  It's no threat to The Force Awakens from a box office standpoint, but as a less crowded alternative it's a fairly good time.  It's a shame its themes aren't a bit more resonant and its leads' performances a bit stronger though.  Regardless, Sisters is a good (and occasionally very good) comedy.  But with a little more heart, it could have been great.


- Mike Stec