Last year, December 18th meant the release of one of the biggest and most anticipated films in recent memory. That was, of course, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Completely unsurprisingly, it was the highest-grossing film of 2015 and totally obliterated what little competition it had in its opening weekend. In fact, only one film was brave enough to open alongside it. That film was the rather shockingly good Sisters, directed by Jason Moore and out now on DVD & Blu-ray.
Sisters stars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as Kate and Maura Ellis, a pair of sisters who learn their parents (Dianne Wiest and James Brolin) are planning to sell their childhood home. Realising they’re getting old and must let their youth go along with the old place, they decide to throw one last big house party. Of course, too much alcohol is consumed, drugs are taken and chaos ensues. Narratively, Sisters doesn’t have much going on. But in this simplicity lies charm. Aside from minor sub-plots about an estranged daughter, potential romance and growing up, Sisters is more-or-less a real-time party that you truly feel part of. And this is where the film shines. The first act is pretty basic – it has a few laughs, but it’s nothing special. We watch as our heroines bicker with their parents and visit their old childhood house, and everything all feels rather aimless. But once the idea for a party is hatched and the planning begins, it starts to take shape. And once the party starts, so does the film.
The party chunk of Sisters – which is the lions’ share – is consistently entertaining and frequently hilarious. Special mention should go to Bobby Moynihan who plays Alex, that guy we all know – the slightly quirky, lonely guy that thinks he is hilarious. But when he unintentionally snorts a lot of…ahem, white powder…he becomes the star of the show. Screaming, smashing through walls and generally being the life of the party, Moynihan is without a doubt the MVP of Sisters and hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more of him. It’s this hectic party atmosphere that gives the film its biggest laughs and fun - the meme-famous John Cena even shows up in a cameo as Pazuzu the drug-dealer, whose safe-word is ‘keep going’. The party unfolds and gets increasingly chaotic in real-time, with the story very rarely leaving the house. Surprisingly immersive for a comedy, the film pulls you in and makes you feel like a guest – and makes you want to throw a party yourself when the film ends.
Female-centric comedies have been a huge part of cinema recently - with films like Bridesmaids, Trainwreck and Pitch Perfect (also directed by Sisters’ Jason Moore) making big bucks at the box office. Typically, they follow a trend – mainly, they have a big focus on somewhat vulgar humour. Sisters is no different, with Poehler and Fey frequently discussing sexual acts and calling people ‘motherf*cker’. But while this is a big part of the film, Sisters has a surprising amount of heart. The film deals with themes of family and growing up with a rather touching poignancy, which is unusual for a film of this sort. You wouldn’t expect any heart from a Paul Feig/Melissa McCarthy shitfest. Which reminds me, doesn’t the new Ghostbusters look terrible? But that’s a discussion for another time...
Sisters is a film I expected very little from. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of either of the leads, nor the genre itself, but this film had me laughing throughout. And despite the rather lengthy runtime (two whole hours!), it flew by without me having to check the time once! Mark Kermode often says a good comedy must pass the 6-laugh test, and Sisters definitely did. What more can you ask for? And hey, I respect any film with the balls to open in cinemas alongside Star Wars. Consistently funny and surprisingly poignant, Sisters stands out in a crowded genre.
Sisters gets a 4/5.
Sisters at CeX
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