Anybody who’s ventured into the theater to see Sisters likely carries with them a torch for the TV work of stars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler from their days on late night comedy mothership Saturday Night Live. At least a glance around the crowded smallish-theater for a New Year’s Day matinée at the Regal Cinemas’ Shoppingtown mall complex revealed a demographic fit for Fey’s 1998 and Poehler’s 2001 start on that NBC juggernaut.
And yes, this 118-minute comedy directed by Jason Moore and written by Paula Pell has a lot of Saturday Night Live running through its veins. Pell, after all, is a writer for that show. And some of the supporting players, including Maya Rudolph as the needed mean girl antagonist, also come from SNL casts past.
Sisters, though, goes further into the raunchy parts than any show on network TV can, even that bold weekend that started in the drug-fueled ’70s.
The premise: Fey and Poehler are sisters Kate and Maura Ellis, who return to their hometown in Florida when their parents — played archly and exactly as they are in this year’s new CBS sitcom Life in Pieces by James Brolin and Dianne Wiest — decide to sell the family home.
In their 40s, Kate and Maura have lived the roles they learned growing up in that house. Kate can’t keep a job or a place to live even though she’s a mom to a wonderful teen girl; Maura walks the straight line and tries to fix everyone’s problems, especially Kate’s. They agree to throw one last party in their beloved house before the sale is final to preppy New Yorkers they hate at first sight.
The guests are high school classmates found on Facebook.
The rest makes history in the house they always called Ellis Island. They agree that Maura, getting over a divorce, needs to cut loose this night and go for a nice and hunky neighbor guy played by likeable Wahlberg lookalike Ike Barinholtz. Kate needs to stay sober as the party mom.
Remember that Fey wrote the movie Mean Girls before her TV fame as the insecure executive to Alec Baldwin’s swagger mister in 30 Rock. Remember that Poehler acted plenty ditzy as the low-level government official in her own sitcom Parks and Recreation.
Throw in some hijinks akin to movies such as Neighbors and the Hangover franchise and you’re on the right track about the somewhat over-the-top shenanigans.
Then a saving grace: Both Fey and Poehler must adore the feel-good ending lore of Sitcom Heaven, too …
Are you more in the Tina Fey camp or Amy Poehler faction, and why? Did you watch ’30 Rock’ and/or ‘Parks and Recreation’ and why? What’s your favorite big-party movie, and why?
Coming Wednesday: My Top 10 movies of 2015.
Coming Thursday: My Bottom 10 movies of 2015.