In Sisters, the eponymous sisters Maura (Amy Poehler) and Kate (Tina Fey) are misguided and somewhat juvenile. The two travel to their parent’s house in Orlando, which they find sold and emptied. They protest the loss of their childhood home, and ultimately decide to throw one last party in the house in an attempt to return to their glory days.
The film totes the expected cavalcade of SNL alum. At the head are Fey and Poehler, both of whom bring their usual comedic charge, but it is of little help given their characters.
Fey plays a character marked solely by vulgarity and immaturity. It is off-brand for Fey, and it shows. Poehler, on the other hand, plays a similarly overly-optimistic character reminiscent of Parks and Recreation‘s Leslie Knope. But the character here is also one with little substance, even when it comes to the film’s eventual sentimentality (something that is on its own a tonal left turn from what the majority of the film churns out).
The remaining SNL stars are pigeon-holed into comedically lacking roles, sometimes purposefully. Bobby Moynihan’s consistently on point timing is diluted to a single shtick in this film, and it is that his character is unbearably unfunny.
The funniest moments of Sisters, of which there aren’t many, are between Poehler and Ike Barinholtz’ James. Even those moments, though, stem from the overdone “awkward romantic transactions” trope found in many teen comedies.
This is where the crux of this film’s missteps becomes apparent. The conceit is to add age to teen comedy tropes. What this leads to is a demographic-compromising situation. Not only is the genre of raunchy teen comedies notoriously filled with mediocrity, but it becomes evident with Sisters that taking that formula to an older audience is not the solution. Given this is the only aspect of the formula subverted, the film becomes a comedic misfire.
The film does benefit overall from the natural chemistry between Fey and Poehler that has made itself evident multiple times in the past. It is the material they are given that sinks this piece, and it is hard to watch the jam-packed cast of comedy masters when the story they tell is a retelling of a comedy subgenre framework that hasn’t been used well in years.
For the second time this year, I have been pleasantly surprised by WWE wrestler John Cena’s scene stealing in comedy films. Still, he fared better in the superior raunchy comedy of the year, Trainwreck.
As always, thanks for reading!
—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)