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Review: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are Sisters doing it for themselves

MA, 118 minutes. Opens Thursday
Director: Jason Moore
Stars: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Ike Barinholtz, Maya Rudolph

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Trailer: Sisters

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey reunite on the big screen playing mismatched sisters who decide to throw an epic party in their childhood home before it is sold.

Reviewer rating


Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Title Sisters
Genre Comedy
Director Jason Moore
Actors Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph
OFLC rating MA 15+
Run Time
Year 2015

Two sisters decide to throw one last house party before their parents sell their family home.

Full synopsis

Occasionally filthy, sometimes foul-mouthed and often funny, Sisters is proof that the inspired comic chemistry of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler can prosper on a longer format than a Saturday Night Live sketch or a Golden Globes monologue. As contrary siblings cutting loose, the pair masterfully make the movie's antics-laden plot into a quick-witted pleasure. Even their silliness is sharp.

Fey plays Kate Ellis, a wilful beautician who struggles to hold onto jobs and homes, much to the chagrin of her college-age daughter, Haley (Madison Davenport), while Poehler is Kate's younger sister, Maura, a divorced nurse whose sense of generosity and caring is so advanced it allows her to pretend she actually has a satisfying life.

The pair return home to Orlando, Florida, for the weekend at the instigation of their parents, played by Dianne Wiest and James Brolin, who've sold their family home and require the duo to clean out their childhood rooms. Kate worries about the loss of back-up housing, while Maura mourns their adolescent memories, but they're soon united by idea of throwing a final party to match their teenage blowouts.

Comedies about men who just want to be teenage boys are legion, but in putting a Bridesmaids-worthy spin on the concept, director Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect) and writer Paula Pell (Saturday Night Live) make the fun anarchic but acknowledge that 40somethings getting off the leash is both temporary and a little tragic. But then Fey and Poehler dance to Snow's Informer and all is good.

The cast is full of talented comics, from Maya Rudolph as Brinda, Kate's pompous high school rival who keeps trying to crash the escalating party, to Bad Neighbours' Ike Barinholtz as James, the good natured recipient of Maura's romantic intentions. Their numerous bits, some madcap and improvised, fill out the storyline, which occasionally tries to impart a few lessons about responsibility and acceptance.

Kate pledges to stay sober so Maura can get a little wild, and Fey in turn is terrific as the sardonic sibling, snapping out insults and riffing on the muscular bulk of wrestler John Cena, who plays the bacchanal's taciturn drug dealer. Poehler extends her comic persona of Parks and Recreation's Leslie Knope, but Fey upends 30 Rock's Liz Lemon.

Previously some of their most memorable humour has arisen from mocking the ludicrous expectations that are placed on women. Here the social critique is liberally doused in self-deprecation, but even when their characters are acting badly Fey and Poehler are immensely likable foils. Given a lunatic landscape to roam, they've created a winning comedy.