Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are one of the greatest comedic duos of this generation, always a hoot together on Saturday Night Live and whenever hosting the Golden Globes. Yet, they’ve surprisingly only crossed paths a couple of times on the silver screen. The two had cameos in Anchorman 2 and supporting roles in Mean Girls, and 2008’s Baby Mama notably allowed them to take center stage. While that film did exemplify their individual talents and undeniable chemistry, it wasn’t exactly the strongest comedy from a directing or writing perspective. In Sisters, however, Fey and Poehler are given much funnier material to work with and thus unlock their full potential.
Poehler plays Maura Ellis, a divorced nurse who’s always thinking of others at her own expense. Fey plays Katie Ellis, a single mom who’s constantly flaking out on others at their expense. As you probably guessed from the title, they’re both sisters. Upon finding out that their parents are selling their childhood home, Maura and Katie take a nostalgia trip back to Orlando. With the house virtually empty, the Ellis sisters decide to throw a big party and invite all their old friends. Among the attendees are Bobby Moynihan as a would-be class clown, Rachel Dratch as a Debbie Downer, and Maya Rudolph as a total Queen B.
That’s pretty much all there is to the film’s plot. It may not sound like much, but that’s actually all we really need. The whole film may just be comedians hanging out and cracking jokes, but who cares as long as a majority of those jokes are funny? Sisters delivers the goods thanks to Paula Pell’s consistently humorous screenplay, a few strong supporting performances, and director Jason Moore making the most out of a constrained setting. Of course, it’s our leading ladies that make this movie a success above all else.
Fey and Poehler are such wonderful comedic talents because neither is restricted to playing one type of role. Poehler’s Maura is clearly more responsible where Fey’s Kate is more of a livewire, but neither of these characters is one-note. It would have been easy for Sisters to just give us a female version of The Odd Couple. The film wisely switches things up a little when the party gets underway, though. Maura decides she’s going to cut loose for once while Kate agrees to stay sober for the night. As the party and Maura spiral out of control, however, Kate isn’t sure if she can prevent her guests from bringing down the house. We get to see both of these characters in different lights, demonstrating what diverse range Fey and Poehler have.
At almost two hours, Sisters does admittedly run on for about twenty minutes too long. Even when the film starts to drag, though, the stars never give any less than 100%. Fey and Poehler are practically sisters in real life, which really shows here. As different as Kate and Maura may be, they still share a special bond that’s identifiable and even kind of sweet. You believe every interaction between them and the film does ultimately say something about the power of sibling relationships. This makes Sisters slightly more than just a laugh riot, but the comedy is the main reason why audiences will see this movie. Sisters is sure to put a smile on your face and lord knows people will need a good chuckle if all the screenings for The Force Awakens are sold out.
A comedy like Sisters all depends on the chemistry between the stars. Fortunately, Fey and Poehler can do little wrong together.