Amy Poehler and Tina Fey show the benefits of their long-running professional relationship by elevating this comedy to highly enjoyable and quotable romp status.
The double act of SNL alumnae play Sisters*** whose parents are selling the old family home in Orlando, so the siblings converge to clear out their old room (literally, to put away all childish things) and, while they’re at it, they decide to throw one last party.
Cue the montages: tidying up the room, reading out old diaries, playing with old toys, bumping into old faces, trying on party clothes, buying booze, decoration the house, getting their nails down. The film plays out as a series of sketches, all gamely and energetically performed by our duo, even when it starts looking a bit silly. Their timing remains impeccable, their commitment to the jokes admirable –
when the laughs aren’t immediately forthcoming, these two can squeeze a snigger out of the weakest non-punchline.
Witness, for example, the scene in the Korean nail bar, which is mildly offensive yet titteringly funny, when Poehler’s sister Maura tries to pronounce her ‘nail technician’s’ real name. Of course, it works because the joke’s ultimately on Poehler, but the difficulties of creating that scene are laid bare in the familiar outpaces over the final credits where we see how the improv-style of this type of comedy really works.
What these two manage – more than, say Seth Rogen and chums in the Xmas stoner movie The Night Before, which I still like – is some kind of desperation amid the comedy. There’s a really sweet sister relationship detectable (not that they look anything like each other) that’s protective and almost instinctive, manifesting itself in their little arguments but also in their dance routines and half-remembered power ballads.
The scene when they get in their hire car and crank up the radio to belt out the chorus of T’Pau’s “Give a little bit of Heart and Soul, give a little bit of love to grow…” until stumbling over the words, is a gag homage to Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. It’s still funny, though.
(And of course, Tina and Amy’s SNL friends/rivals Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader did a wonderful, healing lip-synch to Starship’s Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now as siblings in the recent Skeleton Twins: watch it here).
Rounding up old school friends and enemies on Facebook, the sisters preside over what becomes a riot, all very well controlled by Pitch Perfect director Jason Moore, involving drugs, body builders, sink holes, a ballerina music box and Maya Rudolph as an uptight bitch the girls have always hated: “Listen, I respect your jumpsuit, but not its contents…”
I laughed a lot and even the tumbleweed moments pass with a knowing acknowledgment from Tina Fey’s bright eyes that just ushers us on to the next, better gag with at least a smile on our faces. Great fun.