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Film Review: Sisters

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By Lucy Madeleine Watson

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler prove it is never too late to throw a house party in your childhood home – even if you’re over thirty-five and your parents still disapprove.

Sisters is a fine example of a Saturday Night Live reunion film. The writer, Paula Pell, has written sketches for the NBC show since 1995. The stars, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, are two of SNL’s most notable cast members – Fey was also a writer on the show for nine years. The cast is laden with Saturday Night Live alumni from Maya Rudolph to Rachel Dratch, Kate McKinnon to Bobby Moynihan. Therefore, it seems evident that this film should be able to deliver some laughs.

From the outset, Sisters is a crowd pleaser. Fey and Poehler play middle-aged sisters Kate and Maura, who decide to throw a final party in the childhood home their parents’ – Dianne Wiest and James Brolin – are selling. Despite their familial connection, the sisters couldn’t be more different – you might say, Poehler opposites (sorry, not sorry). Maura (Poehler) is the levelheaded, financially stable sister who, it seems, has suppressed her inner party-girl with an eager sense of responsibility. Kate (Fey) is exactly the opposite – an extrovert and single mother of teenager Hayley (Madison Davenport) with no career goals and a diminishing bank account.

As expected, the writing is slick and the acting is flawless, and the laugh-out-loud consistency doesn’t diminish throughout. The blonde and brunette duo throw the party they intend and have the time of their lives – house music, drugs, alcohol, a foam party, a sink hole, John Cena (as Pazuzu, their dealer) – until their home is barely recognisable the following morning, much to the annoyance of their spirited parents and Kate’s sanctimonious daughter. It is at this point that we see the sisters revert to their teenaged selves; they embody the disobedient teens that wrecked their parents’ house and have to suffer the consequences – the supervised, morning-after clean up.

Much like Saturday Night Live the comedy of Sisters is eccentric and cleverly executed, and has elements of slapstick that isn’t always so present in a predominantly female cast. Through the physical we see Fey and Poehler’s secret handshake-esqe dance moves and the apparent American party piece – the lift from Dirty Dancing – however, feasibly superior is the short and snappy dialogue that is reminiscent of Mean Girls or Bridesmaids and is laced with the seemingly on-the-rise use of vulgarities and swear words every other sentence. It is the partnership of Fey and Poehler that makes it, however – their two-decade friendship radiates on-screen and allows for authenticity of the sisters, to the point where we overlook the physical dissimilarities and believe they are in fact, biologically related.

Undoubtedly, Sisters is in the genre of feel-good comedy and is ridiculous, hilarious and poignant all at once, and evokes the inner wild-child we all have suppressed and perhaps have not yet revisited.

Image source: Universal Studios

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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