Fey, Poehler are as bonded as real ‘Sisters’

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Sisters’ review: Tina Fey-Amy Poehler comedy two scoops of poop.

Underneath the two friends’ showbiz collaborations, which have hopped from an indelible partnership on Saturday Night Live to movies like Mean Girls and Baby Mama to hosting the Golden Globes, is an unshakable bond. Perhaps it’s because few have walked in their shoes. “There’s been many times where I feel like Tina was the only other person I could talk to about being the star and producer and writer of your own television show on NBC,” says Poehler, who stars with Fey in the new R-rated comedy Sisters, in theaters Friday. “With two toddlers,” nods Poehler, 44. “It just felt like a meeting of two, a lot of the times. Purposefully cast against type, Fey plays Kate, a blowsy 40-something beautician with no sense of responsibility and a troubled relationship with her teenage daughter (Madison Davenport).

Her estranged younger sister, Maura (Poehler), is the responsible one, a nurse and bleeding heart who compulsively adopts stray animals and who, as the movie opens, condescends to a construction worker she believes to be homeless by spraying sunscreen on him and telling him to have some moles checked. (Fans of the brilliant Web series “High Maintenance” will be cheered to recognize Ben Sinclair in the role.) When Kate and Maura’s parents announce that they’re moving, the sisters come to Orlando to clean out their childhood bedroom. Upon hearing the news that their parents are selling their childhood home, both go postal and vow to throw a last-gasp rager at their old address. (Cue fortysomething debauchery fueled by a delivery of obscenely named drugs from John Cena.) Yes, Sisters has the valiant task of going up against Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the box office this weekend. Rather than purging childhood artifacts, however, they wind up bingeing on memories and fond what-ifs, finally deciding to throw one final blowout of a party, with all their former friends in attendance. Fey and Poehler have made a viral parody, The Farce Awakens, in answer to it (basically equating Star Wars hype with what they’ve accomplished with Sisters). Directed by Jason Moore (“Pitch Perfect”), “Sisters” follows the recent “Bridesmaids”-inspired trend of R-rated comedies that trade on bawdy one-upswomanship in the form of vulgarity, sexually charged slapstick and gross-out sight gags. (Screenwriter Paula Pell has a cameo in one of the film’s ickiest examples of the latter.) By turns gently ribald and unapologetically filthy, this exercise in escalating fits of mortification often resembles a spin on “Trainwreck,” assuming that the summer hit had focused on Amy Schumer’s strained feelings about Brie Larson, rather than her pursuit of Bill Hader.

But it never gets its act together while mashing up fragments of the comedy classic Animal House and playing it out like a drug-and-alcohol-fuelled episode of Desperate Housewives. Poehler recalls a precious few parties thrown at her childhood house in Burlington, Mass., where her parents still live. “I threw a couple of parties at my house. Especially the coke-snorting, cake-screwing, Pacino-insulting antics of Bobby Moynihan (a current SNL cast member who does everything from Drunk Uncle to brassy celebrity send-ups, including Donald Trump). What starts as a dull grown-up affair of people sharing about menopause, vaginal rejuvenation and the sundry indignities of aging — “How can one person have two colonoscopy stories?” a character asks — eventually descends into a den of iniquity involving sex, drugs and a bizarre set piece during which a cute neighbor (played with appealing warmth by Ike Barinholtz) runs afoul of a musical ballerina figurine. Somebody ripped down a towel bar from my bathroom and threw a basketball at someone and they ducked and it put a dent in our cheap plywood basement doors.

Unlike Seth MacFarlane, who can push a Family Guy joke sooooo far that it comes out the other side of boring and becomes funny again, the Moynihan approach here never gets even mildly amusing in the first place. If the outrageous bits of “Sisters” are meant to be howlers — and they admittedly are — it’s the film’s quieter moments that wind up being most memorable. A sequence during which Kate and Maura are trying on clothes bubbles and burps with off-color brio (“We need a little less Forever 21 and a little more Suddenly 42,” Maura mutters). Of course, it’s patently absurd to believe Fey, pop culture’s go-to hyper-accomplished multi-hyphenate, as a screw-up who brazenly bares her breasts at an onlooker while invoking “poppin’ fresh” cookie dough. Because I’m writing so often for a living, to do more writing would make me furious,” says Fey, who is knee-deep in Season 2 of Netflix’s The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

They don’t rule out a return one day, but “we’re happy,” Poehler says. “I’m bummed not to get to do it, because, it’s so fun but we don’t have to think of jokes over Christmas, that’s good.”

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