Amy Poehler on Her Badass Lady #Squad, From New Pal Hillary Clinton to BFF …
Amy Poehler on Her Badass Lady #Squad, From New Pal Hillary Clinton to BFF Tina Fey.
The Golden Globe-winning actress/writer/producer opens up about new movie ‘Sisters,’ women in comedy, and whether Leslie Knope ever made it to the White House. “I have a really big squad—but the problem is I’m a little old, so I forget who’s in it,” quipped Amy Poehler to The Daily Beast, mulling recent reports that she’s a bona fide member of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s official #squad. Numbing, mediocre, vulgar and inane, “Sisters” combines scattershot comedy, trite sentimentality and patronizing life lessons, while throwing 20 jokes a minute at the screen.
Maura is a divorced nurse who tries to take care of everyone, including a “homeless” man she offers sunscreen and the chance to shower at her house.While shopping for new dresses, the Ellis sisters Maura and Kate (comedy queens Amy Poehler and Tina Fey) pull at the short hemlines and adjust the spandex ruching over their bodies.In ”Sisters,” Tina Fey and Amy Poehler attempt to bring the most teenage of comedy genres — the house-party movie, that of keg stands and drunken hook-ups — into middle age. Older sister Kate is a wild child, mother of a daughter who is more responsible than she is, and a hothead who regularly gets fired from hair salon jobs.
Poehler, playing the more conservative of the siblings, looks down at the sequined “WERK” emblazoned across her chest and opines: “I think we need a store that is less Forever 21 and more Suddenly 42.” Lycra is a younger woman’s game – and Sisters hilariously and unapologetically belongs to the middle-aged woman. The multitalented and modest Burnett got candid with FOX411 about paving the way for women in the entertainment industry, her friendship with Jimmy Stewart, and coping with the loss of her daughter, Carrie. We still don’t know whose name is supposed to come first, but rest assured, America’s leading ladies of comedy — last seen poking fun at a room of well-dressed Hollywood types at January’s Golden Globe Awards (Fey and Poehler’s third consecutive time hosting the ceremony) — are very, very good together.
We are Amy.” The duo find a fertile platform for their snappy natural chemistry in the Universal comedy about two grown siblings—Katie, an irresponsible single mother (Fey) and Maura, the divorced type A smotherer (Poehler)—who throw one last rager in their childhood home before their parents sell the place. Maura has always been the “party mom” staying sober and keeping a watchful eye on everyone but wants to, as she anachronistically says, fly her freak flag. While the tremendous wit and chemistry of Fey and Poehler is unquestioned, the latest big-screen meeting of the former ”Weekend Update” hosts and frequent Golden Globes team feels overwhelming misjudged: a comedy that plays to neither’s strengths.
Directed by Pitch Perfect’s Jason Moore and scripted by SNL veteran Paula Pell, Sisters is the latest onscreen Fey-Poehler collab after their historic SNL/Weekend Update run, 2008’s Baby Mama (in which Poehler played the loose cannon), and their now-iconic reign as Hollywood’s best and ballsiest celebrity awards show emcee tag team. She hopes to drink, dance, flirt with neighbor James (Ike Barinholtz), not worry about holding the hair of a vomiting guest or being the designated driver, and just have the fun that eluded her in her teen years while Kate was killing it. Also, we wanted to be more organized than a mass of videos with no particular order, so there’s a playlist and it gives a place for fans to comment on specific clips; and we’re going to add a new sketch or more every week plus bonus features; they’re kind of wonderful… some with Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Bernadette Peters to name a few.
Neither Poehler nor Fey grew up with sisters, but they bounce off each other as if they were thanks to their close-knit bond and shared knack for irreverent, unapologetic humor. The two first met in their early 20s in Chicago’s comedy scene, graduating from the ImprovOlympics and Second City to comedy’s biggest televised launching pad. “We’ve known each other for so long, we really feel related,” said Poehler of their 22-year friendship. “We don’t have sisters of our own, and I like the idea that sisters and mothers and friends will go see [the movie] together—it’s this idea that when you’re connected with family there’s a complication that isn’t around when you’re with someone you’ve chosen as your sister. Instead of talking about school or college applications, the adult conversation turns to colonoscopies and parent deaths and other sad subjects — until the music, alcohol and illicit drugs come out and the inhibitions slip away.
So it’s fun to play the complication of that and see what it would feel like.” Fey revealed recently that they’d originally been cast in each other’s roles before she deemed Poehler a better fit for late-blooming Maura. “I put my producer hat on, and I thought when you have a part for someone where they’re supposed to be tightly wound in the beginning and then go crazy, you cast the person who is better at going crazy. Their aging parents Bucky (James Brolin) and Deana (Dianne Wiest), who, we are reminded, are sexually active, want to sell in order to “purge” and start over. The only questions are how crazy the party will get, how much the house will be trashed, if Kate will stick to being party mom while Maura becomes, uh, acquainted with James and, as in all movies about unauthorized blowouts, what the parents will say when or if they see the aftermath. “Sisters” has two tremendous assets in Ms.
I just knew that Amy would play the back half of that better.” Poehler, last seen wrapping up her Golden Globe-winning run as dedicated Pawnee, Indiana, public servant Leslie Knope on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, plays Maura’s well-meaning neurosis with crushing self-deprecation, excelling in moments of extreme cringeworthiness. This could be the Valley party in Clueless, the crammed living room of Can’t Hardly Wait, the fraternity high jinks of Animal House or the trashed lawn of Sixteen Candles.
Reading their high school diaries in a shared bedroom still appointed in the ‘80s teen dream decor of their youth, the sisters trapped in their own respective pits of arrested development realize that their glory days were maybe not so glorious after all. The sisters, meanwhile, think it is a brilliant idea to have a last blowout party at their parents’ house with their 40-something high school friends and “frenemies” before the new buyers, the Geernts (an amusing Santino Fontana and Britt Lower), move in. But here, the guests are a bit worse for the wear of their 40-or-so years, all chino pants and Talbot cardigan sets, unsure of how to let loose like they used to.
But while Fey’s Katie is faced with assuming the adult responsibilities she’d always shirked, Poehler’s Maura gets to grow up by letting loose. “What was fun in the film was that my character Maura goes through a metamorphosis,” Poehler mused. “She starts thinking that her days are long behind her and she’s missed her chance, but as the party rages, she does too. Cue several former “SNL” cast members, including a funny Rachel Dratch, and every cliche from the “Hangover” movies you can think of, including, of course, the fat guy (Bobby Moynihan) who ingests some drug that makes him take off his clothes and paint obscene pictures on the walls of the house with his naughty bits.
Barinholtz from “The Mindy Project” and “Neighbors,” and WWE superstar John Cena, building on the comic chops he demonstrated in “Trainwreck.” Scripted by onetime “Saturday Night Live” writer Paula Pell and directed by Jason Moore (“Pitch Perfect”), “Sisters” overstays its party invite with a two-hour running time. As a younger character (the hilarious Greta Lee) puts it as she looks out over the middle-aged carnage of crying, wine-drunk women, and slurring, pantless men: “Wow, people are really working their stuff out at this thing.” Suburban life has taken its basic toll. I got the gift of getting to play both, which was really fun.” Unlike Maura and Katie and just about every pair of siblings that have ever existed, Poehler says she and Fey have never had a bitter sisterly fight in real life.
Along the way it has some genuinely funny moments, others that are crude, juvenile or repetitive, and attempts to wring laughs out of a 67-year-old briefly using the f-word the way other comedies turn tykes or grannies into potty mouths. Back at the family homestead to clear out their rooms, reread their diaries and sort out their lives, it’s decided that the sensible thing to do on their last weekend in the gaff (aside from tearing down the Bono poster on the wall, obviously) is to throw a party. There are so many combined years of sketch-comedy experience in the cast credits that the film’s timing is tight, the jokes continuous and the few flubs forgivable. There are handful of solid guests like Maya Rudolph (as Kate’s nemesis), John Cena (as a drug dealer, making his second fine comedy cameo of the year following ”Trainwreck”) and John Leguizamo (as a sleazy alcoholic).
You treasure those friendships because they span really important times of your life.” Have the two ever wing-womaned for one another, as Katie does with unabashedly florid sexual innuendo to her sis’s love interest-neighbor (Ike Barinholtz)? “Tina pretty much met her boyfriend now husband in Chicago, so she’s never really been single for me to wing,” laughed Poehler. “But we’ve gone out for wings. Actually, Maura is completely against the idea, and the parents (all shacked up in the coolest old folks home on the planet) would have a fit if they knew what Kate had planned, but sure listen, we’ve got a plot to move forward with.
It’s at this point of the film that Sisters inevitably descends down the ‘craziest night of our lives/one last blowout’ route, of which there are five important rules to follow. Fortunately, Sisters doesn’t collapse into total absurdity in the same way that many house-party movies do – the film is slapstick and at moments teeters on the edge of too much, but it quickly snaps back before losing its audience. It’s becoming increasingly clear that if she’s ever to star in a movie as good as anything else she’s done (from ”30 Rock” to her book, ”Bossypants”) she’s going to have to write it herself. ”Sisters,” a Universal Pictures release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for ”crude sexual content and language throughout, and for drug use.” Running time: 118 minutes. There’s no end to his talent so I was thrilled I was booked on “The Colbert Show” and was hoping I would get to meet him, and I was surprised when he came out and recited that poem. Maya Rudolph sneers in suburban chic as Fey’s former high school nemesis, while fellow SNLer Rachel Dratch plays a perennially deflated ex-classmate.
Mature moviegoers may also appreciate the notion of whether someone who fell into a certain pattern in high school can break away from that, and just what the concept of home really means. Her company also produces female-driven series Difficult People for Hulu and has two female-led comedy features in development at Universal. “I just like working with women,” Poehler explained. “From a very selfish perspective I just like how they work. And thanks to its love of a good time and the comedians who light it up, this film will join the hallowed ranks of Baby Mama, Bridesmaids, Spy and Trainwreck – that is, as a beloved comedy about brassy broads just werking.
From a creative perspective, I think the audience demand is catching up with the supply—that there are a lot of people wanting to see stories told from whether it be women or people or color or any kind of diverse new voice, people are hungry for that. And demand is bigger than before, even though I’ve known over the past twenty years so many talented people who have been ready to express themselves in that way. Kate agrees to stay off the sauce (it’s a role-reversal movie, too) and Maura gets hot, awkward and heavy with the handyman across the road (Ike Barinholtz). Gloria said ‘Well, I’m not going to get him out of here because he loves to sing.’ Gloria called me the next day and said what a wonderful time they had. It’s pretty cool to feel that and in some very small way to be a part of that.” Her wariness of social media and “other poisonous bullshit on the Internet” partially led to the creation of Smart Girls, which “has less to do with the entertainment world and more to do with how does one figure out who they are in life, what are you interested in and what are you curious about, and kind of celebrating the person who’s interested in things they’re interested in,” she said. “It’s just like anything: What’s wonderful about the Internet and social media is feeling connected, and less alone, and part of a bigger thing.
The thing is, despite its ridiculous running length (two-hour comedies are all the rage now, apparently) and paper-thin premise, Sisters — though wobbly on occasion — somehow stays on track. Every time I get frustrated or stuck, I turn to young people because I think their impatience and their dedication and their quote-unquote optimism is super inspiring and creative. It gets me out of that cynical place.” Poehler is, of course, firmly on Team Hillary. “Let’s do this,” tweeted the Smart Girls account in April when Clinton announced her 2016 White House bid, accompanying the endorsement with a GIF of the women side by side on the SNL set. “It was such an exciting time to be doing a live variety sketch show because there were so many women in politics and so much stuff happening, so much to play,” Poehler recalled of her first brush with playing Clinton. “When you’re doing a sketch show, you want to have people to play. Fans, of course, are hoping to see the pair reprise their Sarah Palin-Hillary Clinton one-two punch—but Poehler generously defers to current star McKinnon, her successor in Hillarydom. “Every election is different,” she said. “I’m really interested to see how this one starts to unfold—it’s starting to, and it’s its usual combination of interesting and bizarre—and frankly, excited to see what Kate McKinnon does with her stuff on SNL.
John Leguizamo (an old schoolmate) piles on the sleaze, Maya Rudolph (the bitch next door) has a complete breakdown, and even James Brolin’s comical turn as the sisters’ old man is on target. I loved that ending because I love that the Secret Service is talking to both of them and one isn’t quite sure who is in the White House,” Poehler laughed. “What I love about Parks is that at the end of the day, it wasn’t a show about big-time politics. The nurse said, ‘She’s always so cheerful and smiling, and I asked her how can she be smiling?’ Carrie told the nurse ‘I’m going to decide to love my life today.’ So I do that. I don’t know.” “I’d like to think that you think that,” she teased. “It’s more important that one would think that and believe that to be the case. That would be exciting.” She paused dramatically, setting up one last zinger like a pro. “Let’s be honest, we’re all going to be ruled by robots in about… six years.
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