Fey, Poehler star in dif­fer­ent movies to­gether

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - MOVIE LISTINGS - By Katie Walsh Tri­bune News Ser­vice

A lot of very tal­ented and lik­able peo­ple came to­gether to make “Sis­ters.” Stars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are much beloved for their iconic TV char­ac­ters, long­time “Satur­day Night Live” writer Paula Pell con­trib­utes the screen­play, and “Pitch Per­fect” di­rec­tor Ja­son Moore takes on di­rect­ing du­ties.

It’s a shame then, that with all th­ese fine cre­ators, this scat­ter­shot com­edy just doesn’t gel in the way that it should.

One of the main prob­lems with “Sis­ters” is that stars Fey and Poehler, while clearly hav­ing fun to­gether, are not on the same page in terms of their per­for­mance choices. Poehler is heart­felt and re­al­is­tic as overly car­ing and con­cerned nurse Maura, while Fey per­forms a slop­pily con­ceived car­i­ca­ture of train wreck cougar party girl/sin­gle mom, Kate. Fey seems as if she’s in an “SNL” sketch, only half­way com­mit­ted to the part, with a wink-wink, nudge-nudge air of irony, while Poehler seems like she’s ac­tu­ally in a movie.

The sis­ters are sum­moned back to their home­town of Or­lando be­cause their par­ents, played by Dianne Wi­est and James Brolin, have sold their cher­ished fam­ily home and need their adult chil­dren to pack up their high school bed­rooms, filled with ‘80s de­tri­tus. Re­luc­tant to let go of their old iden­ti­ties as high school party girls, and to stick it to the snobby new own­ers, the sis­ters de­cide to throw one last rager, for old time’s sake.

To­ward the end of the party, their dad ad­mon­ishes the group of as­sem­bled adults to “go home be­fore I call your chil­dren,” and that word­play seems to be the premise that launched the whole film — what hap­pens when the mid­dle-aged crowd par­ties like they’re in high school? Well, things are very bor­ing at first, un­til Kate gives a rous­ing mo­ti­va­tional speech and ral­lies the troops with rounds of shots.

The party ta kes up much of the film’s du­ra­tion, which at nearly two hours is far too long for a project this light­weight. The party is bloated with chore­ographed dances, drug­gie an­tics, and lots of high-fiv­ing be­tween Maura and Kate. The two sis­ters switch roles for the night — Kate takes on the role of “party mom” so Maura can se­duce neigh­bor James (Ike Barinholtz). This re­sults in the al­most to­tal de­struc­tion of the house.

There are some funny lines pep­pered through­out, and Poehler and Fey are en­ter­tain­ing when they’re riff­ing to­gether (though many of the best mo­ments ap­pear in the trailer). There are plenty of great comedic ac­tors through­out, in­clud­ing Bobby Moyni­han as a pro­foundly un­cool friend who spi­rals into a hi­lar­i­ously manic drug haze.

Fey of­ten tends to­ward a cu­ri­ously ur­ban char­ac­ter­i­za­tion in her per­for­mance, which feels out of step with the rest of the film. To­ward the end, her char­ac­ter comes to­gether, but mostly she’s putting on an af­fec­ta­tion and half­heart­edly toss­ing off lines.

“Sis­ters” over­stays its wel­come, stuffed with sub­plots and side char­ac­ters. It doesn’t know where and when to end, so it just keeps end­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, “Sis­ters” just isn’t wor­thy of all the tal­ent in­volved.


Tina Fey, left, as Kate El­lis and Amy Poehler as Maura El­lis, in a scene from the film “Sis­ters,” di­rected by Ja­son Moore.

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