It’s hard to deny that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are two of the funniest women working in show business at the moment. Their respective sitcoms ran for seven seasons each and were huge successes, if not in their initial ratings, then in critical acclaim and Netflix watches and re-watches. The two women also have a definite chemistry and affinity for one another, as demonstrated by their team-ups on SNL and in hosting award shows. However, their previous feature outing, Baby Mama, was a bit lackluster, if only because it was carried by their performances rather than strong writing. Is Sisters the film to prove that the duo have what it takes to deliver on the big screen? I most certainly think so.
Sisters is the story of… well, two sisters, Katie (Fey) and Maura (Poehler). Katie is immature and irresponsible, yet paradoxically the mother of a fairly well-adjusted teenage daughter. Maura is overly responsible to the point of being self-sacrificing, even when her advice is unsolicited. When the women’s parents decide to sell their childhood home, the two head to the house to clean out their old bedroom. In an act of rebellion against their parents, the two decide to throw a major party like those of their high school days, but this time Katie has to be the responsible one and Maura is allowed to let her freak flag fly so that she has the chance to score with the cute guy next door.
What makes this film work so well, besides the fact that the script is overflowing with hilarious jokes, is that Katie and Maura are very well-developed characters. On the most basic level, they are archetypical foils to one another, but they also obviously have a shared history with one another that transcends the bare outlines of their personalities. This probably has a lot to do with Fey’s and Poehler’s BFF status, but considering that these two are so funny anyway, I don’t really mind the fact that this film is mostly just an excuse for them to hang out together.
And unlike the aforementioned Baby Mama, the writing in this film is really solid. In many straight comedies, the screenwriter can often forget to write a third act entirely, or can make the third act so dire that the comedy comes to a screeching halt. However, Sisters makes neither of these errors, keeping the comedy consistent while simultaneously delivering resolution to both major character arcs of the two sisters. This doesn’t even take into account that the jokes themselves are usually riotous, to the point where I’m sure I’ll have to watch the movie again just to make sure I didn’t laugh so hard that I missed something. There are a few jokes about lesbian stereotypes that don’t quite work (which is true about most Fey-affiliated GLBT humor), but on the whole the film had my entire theater laughing almost non-stop.
Sisters has the unfortunate distinction of opening in theaters on the same day as Star Wars: Episode VII, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this one flies under a lot of people’s radar. But that won’t prevent me from advocating for it. If you have time for two movies that weekend, or if you just really aren’t feeling the Oscar bait this year, seriously, support Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as feature film buddy comedians. This film is great, and I doubt you’ll be disappointed.