“Sisters”: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler throw one last rager at their parents’ house. 2.5 stars out of 4.
The late critic Gene Siskel had a frequent saying when evaluating a movie with an appealing cast: “Is this film more interesting than a documentary of the same actors having lunch?” In the case of “Sisters,” the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler sibling comedy, the question is heightened: Who among us wouldn’t happily listen in on these two having lunch? Or even a quick coffee? Can this movie possibly be as funny as, say, the interviews Fey and Poehler have been giving about it? Or as funny as the duo’s Golden Globe hosting? “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” isn’t the only movie this week dealing with high expectations.
Yes, “Sisters” is funny. But not quite as funny as you’d like it to be, and rather longer than it should be. (Like so many contemporary comedies, it’s a 90-minute movie hiding inside a two-hour running time.) Its story is simple: Fey and Poehler play sisters Kate and Maura (wild child and good girl, respectively) who learn that their parents (Dianne Wiest, James Brolin) are selling their childhood home. Caught up in nostalgia, they decide to throw one last party, at which things go predictably awry and after which their family issues become smoothly sorted out, in the way of all glossy comedies.
You’ve pretty much seen this movie before, but the chemistry between Fey and Poehler — famously pals off-screen — is, of course, a kick, particularly in throwaway scenes where they seem to be happily wandering off script. Maybe they’re not, but both are terrific at making a moment seem spontaneous — such as an early scene in which the sisters sing along to the radio, mangling most of the lyrics, or one in which Poehler’s Maura tries to casually lean against a wall, but isn’t sure what to do with her arm. The party starts to drag after a while, but the company never gets old.
Movie Review ★★½
‘Sisters,’ with Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Ike Barinholtz, James Brolin, John Cena, John Leguizamo, Dianne Wiest. Directed by Jason Moore, from a screenplay by Paula Pell. 118 minutes. Rated R for crude sexual content and language throughout, and for drug use. Several theaters.