dir Jason Moore
scr Paula Pell
prd Tina Fey, Jay Roach
with Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Ike Barinholtz, Dianne Wiest, James Brolin, John Leguizamo, John Cena, Madison Davenport, Rachel Dratch, Bobby Moynihan, Greta Lee
release UK 12.Dec.15, US 18.Dec.15
15/US Universal 1h58
Party on: Poehler and Fey

rudolph wiest brolin
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Sisters The terrific chemistry between Tina Fey and Amy Poehler goes a long way to making this film watchable even after its plot gives up trying. Their interaction bristles with improvised genius, hilarious gags and some very smart observations. Otherwise, it's just simplistic comedy mayhem, indulging in increasingly stupid plot points to ramp up the wackiness.

Kate (Fey) is a single mother with a teen daughter (Davenport) and no job, while her sister Maura (Poehler) is divorced and directionless. Neither has quite grown up. So when their parents (Wiest and Brolin) sell the family home, Kate and Maura head to Orlando to pack their things, then get an idea to have one last wild party to say goodbye. It's attended by school friends (including Leguizamo, Dratch and Moynihan), a sexy neighbour (Barinholtz), an arch-nemesis (Rudolph) and a burly drug dealer (Cena). And it pushes Kate and Maura to the breaking point.

There's just enough clever humour all the way through to keep even non-inebriated audience members engaged, but the lack of effort in the story and characters ultimately wears thin. The central plot is so feeble that it's almost not there, merely hinging on the escalation of idiotic behaviour to create the ultimate destructive house party. But the script doesn't even have the courage of that conviction, hedging its bets at every step to make sure everything is still fundamentally nice.

This approach suits Fey and Poehler's talents, as they are far too likeable to be as reprehensible as these characters really ought to be. They're also so funny that most audiences won't bother to look deeper. Both actresses have a disarming willingness to be flatly ridiculous, so it's impossible to stay mad at them (or for them to stay mad at each other). The surrounding cast makes sure to get out of their way, although Rudolph does some terrific scene-stealing, and Barinholtz is likeably offhanded.

It's a shame the script is as generic as the title. There are the usual messages about growing up, taking responsibility and protecting the family bond. And thankfully the swelling sentimentality is undermined by jagged jokes. The stronger gags may keep the audience laughing through the weaker ones, but the lack of subtext or even context leaves the movie utterly forgettable. There's absolutely nothing to it aside from Fey and Poehler, but that might be enough.

cert 15 themes, language, drugs, violence, innuendo 2.Dec.15

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Sisters Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2015 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall