By Bob Bloom
The chemistry that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler create adds something extra to whatever project they are undertaking — be it hosting the Golden Globes, acting in sketches on “Saturday Night Live” or costarring in a big-screen comedy.
“Sisters” is the latest example of this entertaining equation.
The movie may be too long — a tad under two hours — and some plot elements are predictable, but, when the two are on screen, those drawbacks simply evaporate because you are having such a good time watching them interact.
In “Sisters,” Fey and Poehler play Kate and Maura Ellis, middle-aged sisters. In what could be considered a switch in casting, Fey’s Kate is the wild, irresponsible big sister, while Poehler’s Maura is the responsible, level-headed younger sibling.
The temperamental Kate cannot hold a job, which creates an estrangement from her teenage daughter, while Maura is one of those do-gooders who takes in stray animals and tries to help homeless people.
The sisters are united after their parents, delightfully played by James Brolin and Dianne Wiest, announce they are selling their Orlando, Fla., house, which upsets the sisters who have fond memories of growing up there.
The pair rush to Orlando, only to find that the house is already sold and that they have a couple of days to pack up their room and save whatever childhood memories it contains.
In retaliation, and because they do not like the young couple who bought the house, the furious sisters decide to have one of their raucous high-school parties and invite their old classmates.
You can probably figure out the rest — booze, drugs and sex create havoc.
The supporting cast features a who’s who of past and present “SNL” players, including Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Bobby Moynihan, Chris Parnell and Kate McKinnon, as well as such comic actors as John Leguizamo and Samantha Bee.
The script, by former “SNL” writer Paula Pell, plays off the strengths of Fey and Poehler, allowing them room to improvise and add their own quirky touches to any situation.
And, yes, the movie is a throwback, old-school, raunchy and profane comedy, featuring gross-out, vulgar situations and formulaic party animal antics.
But the familiarity with — and likability of — Fey and Poehler overshadow all of the film’s shortcomings.
Plus, you feel a guilty-pleasure kind of satisfaction, listening to Fey dropping “F”-bombs as if she were costarring in a Quentin Tarantino movie.
Despite some jokes falling flat, “Sisters” is nearly nonstop laughter that makes you hope for more pairings of Fey and Poehler, and perhaps a stronger script that could really take advantage of their comic personalities.
Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and The Film Yap (filmyap.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Other reviews by Bloom can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.
3 stars out of 4
(R), language, sexual content, drug use