Funny girls

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler; overgrown women-children acting up in Sisters.

Kim Taylor-Foster


Kim Taylor-Foster

Funny girls

Sisters (15)
Running time 1hr 58mins
Rating: ***

IT’S brilliant that comedians like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler exist. They don’t fit the movie stereotype for a funny woman. It’s incredible that it needs proving, but both prove that a woman on the big screen can be attractive and so many other things, and yet still be properly funny; they prove that a woman in Hollywood can be a well-rounded individual. These contemporary comedy icons don’t just fulfil pre-ordained funnygirl roles in cameos, supporting parts or even main roles; instead, they carry a movie
in the way that the cast of Bridesmaids did. They’re examples of women comedians smashing the mould. Fey and Poehler are also doing their bit for ageism – proving that there’s room in Hollywood for women past 40 that doesn’t consign them to sidelined roles as wives, mothers and grandmothers. All that aside, is Sisters funny?

Well, that depends on what you want and expect from this movie. Take Fey and Poehler out of the equation and what you’ve basically got is a Will Ferrell/Paul Rudd movie. If that’s your bag, you’ll like Sisters: it’s Old School revisited.
Instead of overgrown men-children acting up, however, you’ve got
overgrown women-children acting up – both a good and a bad thing. Good, in that it shows that
women and men can and should be interchangeable in these kinds of roles (and therefore, crucially, equal). Bad, because they’re having to act out traditional ‘male’ roles in order to be funny.The plot is limited but it gives the film a basic structure from which to hang jokes and set pieces. The plot serves the script in other words, and Fey and Poehler seem to relish the chance to indulge themselves. The story involves two 40-something sisters, Kate (Fey) and Maura (Poehler) who have never really grown up, despite one going through a divorce and the other being a single mum. When their parents (James Brolin and Diane Wiest) decide to sell the family home and move to a retirement village, the sisters decide now’s the time to throw one last party in their childhood home. Inviting a bunch of old school friends, the party starts soberly but the hinges soon come off once Kate encourages everyone to let loose and invites a drug dealer named Pazuzu (WWE star John Cena) along to enliven proceedings. Before they know it, an impromptu foam party breaks out and someone’s turned the pool blue. The house gets wrecked and it’s at this point that the parents drop a bombshell to Kate that whips the rug out from under her.

Although in some ways it’s a film to be celebrated – and it is fairly funny in expected ways – it’s also a shame it’s limiting for Fey and Poehler, two important, much-admired women comedians at the top of their game. Both actors are likeable and
watchable, however, as are Wiest and Brolin as the exasperated parents. Coupled with some great lines and fun performances, this formulaic comedy nostalgically evokes movies like House Party and Animal House and has some great tunes in its soundtrack to boot.

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