Here are two facts about me to contextualize my review of Sisters. First, I have never been to a high school party. Second, my younger (and only) sister, Danielle, is one of my best friends.
Okay, here’s a third fact, and it’s the most important of all: I went to see Sisters with said sister while we were wearing matching Hotline Bling Christmas sweaters. This might have affected how much I laughed watching Tina Fey and Amy Poehler stagger across the screen in the way that has endeared me to them both, them patting each other’s butts and swearing like it’s their business. My own partner-in-crime was in the seat next to me, laughing her ass off and remembering the same childhood antics.
As a movie, Sisters is fine. It’s standard party movie fare, causing high school squares like me no small amount of anxiety. (During several moments, I physically cringed, my hands flying to my forehead. My lifelong stress inspired by such unrealistic images of Bacchanalian revelry has clearly been exacerbated by age and home ownership.) And as with Fey and Poehler’s first feature, Baby Mama, the plot of Sisters is average, but has glittering moments where both women are allowed to shine as comedians, and where their relationship (and their characters’ relationship) radiates.
After Bridesmaids showed that a rated-R film about women being crass could sell, studios have blessedly given more room to let female comedians run with their gross natural urges. This film has it all: strings of creative swears, accidental cocaine abuse, public penetration and a solid rectal trauma gaffe (if there is such a thing). Fey is at her foulest as the trainwreck older sister Kate, literally writhing on the grass and releasing a demonic slew of F-bombs fairly early into the film. Like some of Fey’s other projects, most notably my beloved 30 Rock, there are some outdated jokes and stereotypes that feel a little out-of-place in a movie that owes a lot to the recent wave of Hollywood gender progressiveness. There’s nothing malicious, but these are the moments where Paula Pell’s script unquestionably falls flat.
The film flaunts, as expected, an impressive parade of 30 Rock alums and Saturday Night Live stars both old and new. My new favourite comedy actor John Cena makes an appearance after stealing my heart in Trainwreck, proving just as much in this as he did in Amy Schumer’s film that he is a perfect human being with comedy chops that deserve to be stretched. Bobby Moynihan delivers a manic and incredibly committed performance, and I still can’t decide whether Maya Rudolph is hilarious or annoying as hell in her part, but perhaps that shows how well she plays the neurotic and bizarre Brinda.
The best parts of Sisters, in my mind anyway, were the parts that reminded me of all that is good and horrific about my relationship with the girl who was sitting beside me. While watching it, I remembered her patiently learning dance routines to the soundtrack of Chicago at my insistence, laying in bed together while she relayed the plot of Monster’s Inc., and then the shittier memories from our shared years as teenage girls. Between the back-to-back jokes in their particular brand of humour, Poehler and Fey manage to convey an honest portrayal of life as an adult sister. (My sister and I grew closest in adulthood, and I’m so grateful for it, not only because, according to NPR, it may help me lead a longer life.)
Basically, watching Sisters with my sister helped me to remember everything that makes sisterhood great, with every moment of laughter and shittyness being equally important.