To my knowledge the dominant figures in American Comedy for the last 40 years have been members of the show Saturday Night Live (or SNL); Dan Akryod, Bill Murray to Will Ferrell Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader have all been a part of a seminal live sketch show, as have the two women who will be the focus of this review. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have been praised for their work separately in TV for projects like 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation but in Sisters they come together under the direction of Jason Moore with script penned by SNL writer Paula Pell, to knock back against the winter blues with this belly-achingly funny comedy.
The Film’s plot is simple; 2 sisters Maura (Poehler) and Kate (Fey) Ellis are told by their parents that they are selling the sister’s childhood home. To say good bye to it the sisters decide to throw a party like they used to do with their high school friends. Cue alcohol and drug fuelled shenanigans and drama as the middle aged cast (as a young Korean beautician states) work out all their s**t.
The comedy pedigree speaks volumes about the quality of the film. The leads are proven talents in both TV and Film with Fey having written 2004 classic Mean Girls and Netflix favourite Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Poehler voicing Joy in Pixar’s Inside Out and starring in another Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer. The supporting cast as well are at the top of their game, with names like Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Bobby Moynihan, John Leguizamo and a fantastic comedy turn from John Cena, in a similar fashion to Channing Tatum in 21 Jump Street.
Similarly the creative crew have the comedy chops to rival the leads. Moore is perhaps better known as the director of Pitch Perfect a surprise comedy smash. It is clear then that the cast and crew can and do deliver excellent comedy set pieces, but the key is the chemistry between Fey and Poehler, who after working together for so long on SNL and clearly being the best of friends are able to bounce off each other to create some gut busting interactions.
It is not only a great comedy but it is also an important one, being made
by, written by and being led by women in the film business. What makes it more amazing is the focus on women of age. Usually male driven image obsessed Hollywood would relegate these characters to the stuffy wife/girlfriend or weird side character, but not in this film, where they have full character arcs, and meaningful interactions past the vulgar and boisterous exterior.
While the film, is definitely laugh out loud funny, touching at times and worth consideration, I have my own personal bugbears about the state of modern comedy that I wish to address here, and if for some strange reason any one big in the American comedy scene is reading this, I am by no means diminishing your talent as comedy actors, I just have something I would like to say. I would like to link you to a great YouTube creator Tony at the Channel everyframeapainting; he said something that influenced me in my attitude to film comedy, (actually he says everything that I am about to a lot better so um, yeah go check out his stuff, but also mine as well, despite the fact that his is better, please. Thanks). As films, as in a medium that uses cameras to capture action then edit those pieces of action to create sequences, scenes and finally a feature film, the current trend of comedy is boring. They are shot with standard three set up coverage, mid-shots in order to get all the great lines that the actors are improvising. Take Edgar Write and his films Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz; Write uses the camera as a source of comedy, quick pans and tool up montages to spoof filmic troupes. If the cinematography and the editing had been as entertaining as the acting then Sisters would have probably killed me through laughter, but unfortunately it’s focus on acting and improvisation slightly impairs it in my opinion.
Despite my own personal issues with the comedy genre, Sisters is definitely a film to go and see. While I hear you say, but Star Wars is the film I am going to see, I will retort as the films marketing has “Just See Both”.