“Get your peanut butter out of my sister’s chocolate.”
It’s one thing to release your movie with a strategy of counter programming in mind. It’s another to counter program your movie against a sure fire blockbuster juggernaut that unsurprisingly went on to be the highest grossing movie of all time. I love Tina Frey and Amy Poehler, and even I totally overlooked the release of their latest team up because I was so distracted by Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Then, the first few weeks of the year were taken up with prestige, Oscar movies. But now that I got that stuff out of the way, it was finally time to see Sisters.
Maura (Poehler) is a recently divorced nurse who is the kind of person who spends her leisure time offering homeless people sunscreen, a place to shower and motivational quotes. Skyping with her parents (Dianne Wiest and James Brolin), she learns that they are planning on selling the childhood home where she grew up. That news is bad enough, but it gets even worse when they let her know that they expect Maura to tell her sister, Kate (Fey).
Recently fired from yet another job, Kate is the irresponsible, free spirit flipside to Maura’s uptight sensibleness. When even her own teenaged daughter sees Kate as a bit of a screw up, Kate decides on moving back home with her parents to help get her life back together. Which makes her arrival at their house to discover a sold sign on the front lawn all the more jarring. Their parents weren’t just thinking about selling the house, they’ve already sold it and moved out. While cleaning out their old bedroom, the two sisters reminisce about parties they threw as teenagers, and decide that one last blowout is the best way to say goodbye to the house.
If you like Fey and Poehler, I can’t imagine there’s any way you won’t like Sisters. They did so well as Golden Globes hosts and exploded as the internet’s favourite best friends because their chemistry is as palpable as it is effortless. Which is what makes them so believable as sisters. Whether they’re sympathising with each other, fighting, commiserating or taking advantage of one another, it all seems so natural. Inside jokes can sometimes be alienating to those on the outside looking in, but these two make it feel like a lifetime of inside jokes we’re in on as well.
It’s also dirtier than I expected. As public figures, Fey and Poehler both come off as extremely intelligent and classy broads. But as writers and performers, they’re both partial to the best kind of dumb and goofy gags. And Sisters is full of really great, really dumb, often dirty jokes. It’s the kind of movie that’s not afraid to have a music box play while lodged firmly up someone’s back passage.
Now that the dust has settled and Star Wars mania has subsided a bit, I hope people discover Sisters on DVD or streaming, because it deserves a lot more attention than it got on release. A raunchy comedy, starring two women in their forties isn’t the kind of thing that comes along every day. But with Fey and Pohler at the centre, Sisters makes a good argument for this kind of thing being a lot more needed.