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Despite Fey and Poehler, Sisters Isn’t As Funny As It Sounds

There are some big laughs mostly generated by the witty banter of the two leads, whose rapport can only carry the contrived scenario so far.
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We know that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler can be hilarious, especially when they’re performing together. Yet in Sisters, it feels like they’re trying too hard to prove themselves.

The low-brow comedy is the latest in the post-Bridesmaids trend of female raunchiness, the type of fare about female bonding and arrested development and women behaving badly that would be dismissed as formulaic if the genders were reversed.

There are some big laughs mostly generated by the witty banter of the two leads, whose rapport can only carry the contrived scenario so far.

The story begins with a bombshell, when divorced nurse Maura (Poehler) finds out that her parents (James Brolin and Dianne Wiest) are selling the family house and moving into a retirement community. So Maura is forced to summon her rebellious older sister, Kate (Fey), home to clean out their belongings before the sale closes.

However, the process of sifting through teenage diaries and childhood memories hatches a mischievous idea — to throw one last house party and invite all their old high school friends, with the goal of sending the house out in style.

The siblings hope to use the bash as a method to reconnect their family before the mayhem quickly gets out of hand thanks to some overzealous behavior by guests and hosts alike.

It’s a broad crowd-pleaser from director Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect) that keeps the emphasis on over-the-top slapstick and gross-out gags. The extended party sequence goes pretty much as you’d expect, with mishaps involving drugs, booze, the swimming pool, the bathroom, the cops, the unwanted guests, and the scramble to clean it all up.

Perhaps the class-reunion vibe is appropriate given the number of “Saturday Night Live” alums peppered throughout the supporting cast. Rookie screenwriter Paula Pell likewise got her breakthrough with “SNL,” although her labored script doesn’t do Fey and Poehler any favors, especially when it tumbles toward inevitable attempts at poignancy and life-changing epiphanies.

The primary issue is that regardless of their bumbling charm or amusing affinity for 1980s nostalgia, Kate and Maura are more selfish and obnoxious than anything, and it takes more than a few fashion and home-improvement montages to change that.

Instead, Sisters is more focused on crude sorority-house hijinks with little realistic emotional grounding. These girls might just wanna have fun, but they don’t have many fresh ideas to do so.

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