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"SISTERS"
(2015) (Tina Fey, Amy Poehler) (R)


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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: Upset that their retired parents are going to sell their childhood home, two adult sisters decide to throw one last blow-out party there.
PLOT:
Kate Ellis (TINA FEY) was once one of the most popular girls in her high school, but since then things haven't panned out that well. She can't hold down a job as a hairdresser, doesn't have her own place, and even her teenage daughter, Hayley (MADISON DAVENPORT), doesn't want to live with her. Kate's sister, Maura (AMY POEHLER), on the other hand, has a good nursing job in Atlanta, but has been divorced for two years. When Maura learns that their parents -- Deana (DIANNE WIEST) and Bucky (JAMES BROLIN) -- are planning on selling the sisters' childhood home, she convinces Kate to travel to Orlando with her where they learn that the house has already sold and the only thing left to do is for the women to clean out their bedroom that's been left pretty much the way it was since they were in high school.

Not happy about this news, the sisters decide to throw one last big-blow out party there, with Kate telling Maura the latter should invite a handsome and single neighbor, James (IKE BARINHOLTZ). While disliked former classmate Brinda (MAYA RUDOLPH) is definitely not invited, the sisters invite others, ranging from married couple Liz (SAMANTHA BEE) and Rob (MATT OBERG) to Sam (KATE MCKINNON) and her lesbian partner and friends. Also invited is local nail salon worker Hae-Won (GRETA LEE) and her friends, sad sack Kelly (RACHEL DRATCH), former class clown Alex (BOBBY MOYNIHAN), and partier Dave (JOHN LEGUIZAMO) who connects the sisters with local drug dealer Pazuzu (JOHN CENA) for product to spice up the party.

When the latter finally shows up, the party kicks in to high gear, with the sisters trading their usual roles as Kate plays house mom while Maura lets her hair down and tries to bed James. As the party continues and more booze and drugs are consumed, things start to get out of control.

OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
Some comedians and comedy movies are brave for pushing the boundaries of what people might find funny. Lenny Bruce and Andy Kaufman are two names that immediately come to mind when thinking of performers who were just as likely to be booed at as elicit laughs from their material. Yet, both are now considered comedy legends.

Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" also raised eyebrows when it came out in 1940 as did "The Producers" decades later (both revolved around Hitler). A decade later "Monty Python's Life Of Brian" stirred up controversy as it braved including religion in its comedic material. And after another jump in time, "Bridesmaids" dared show that the ladies can be as raunchy and crude as the fellas in trying to elicit laughs.

But no comedy can be as brave as "Sisters." No, it's not because of worries that co-stars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler might have jumped the shark and overstayed their welcome doing their comedy duo bit one more time. And it's not because, likes "Bridesmaids" before them, they push the R-rating hard and often, and might potentially offend some of their fans who might be surprised by them wallowing in filth.

No, this comedy is brave because it's opening against -- cue the heavily dramatic and symbolic music -- a little art house film called "The Forest Wakes Up." What's that? Oh, I'm sorry, the real title is "The Force Awakens." As in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

Accordingly, the force will probably have to be with this film in terms of box office potential (beyond whatever leftovers it gets from those who can't get tickets to that other pic), but I imagine it will do just fine once it's available in homes around the world.

Speaking of places where people live, that's the big plot catalyst in the screenplay that's been penned by Paula Pell. You see, it's been a long time since our titular subjects (Fey and Poehler) resided at the Orlando abode owned by their parents (Dianne Wiest and James Brolin). The latter are downsizing into a retirement community and thus unloading their bigger place (complete with the girls' shared bedroom still intact with their high school life trappings, as if in some sort of time capsule). It's a real estate transaction that doesn't sit well with the sisters.

Accordingly, they show up, express their outrage, start going through said stuff (which points out that Fey's Kate was the partier and Poehler's Maura was always the "party mom" watching out for others), and then decide to throw one last big blow-out party at the place, but this time switching those old roles.

And that's really all there is to the plot beyond the menagerie of characters (many of them related to "Saturday Night Live") who show up for said event to let their hair down and try to relive their high school glory days.

The party kicks into high gear when a muscle-bound drug dealer (John Cena, continuing his foray into film comedies this year) shows up, all while Maura tries to bed a handsome bachelor (Ike Barinholtz) she's just met, Kate tries to keep a hated, former high school classmate (Maya Rudolph) out of the event, and the former class clown (Bobby Moynihan) goes wild after ingesting a potent drug combo he believed was Stevia for his Al Pacino playing Scarface impersonation.

The material is fairly hard R rated, which might surprise some fans of the actresses who they might have only seen in their various TV personas. While that obviously might not be to everyone's tastes, the two performers (also known for co-hosting The Golden Globes award show several times) have a good comedic chemistry together, and some of the one-liners (that fly fast and furious) are pretty funny.

And a scene where a Korean nail salon worker (Greta Lee) purposefully butchers Maura's name in response to the latter having unintentionally butchered hers is comedy gold. Such moments generate laughs and make "Sisters" entertaining enough to warrant a 5 out of 10 rating.




Reviewed December 4, 2015 / Posted December 18, 2015


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