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13° & CLOUDY ON WEDNESDAY 24 JULY IN MELBOURNE
By Sarah Ward
January 06, 2016
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Sisters

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler cut loose.
By Sarah Ward
January 06, 2016
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Since they first won our hearts and tickled our senses of humour on Saturday Night Live, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have inspired two reactions. Audiences either want to be them or be best friends with them, though the former is impossible and the latter highly unlikely. 30 Rock, Parks and Rec and their Golden Globes co-hosting gigs didn't lessen this desire, so their latest collaboration offers the next best thing. For two hours, Sisters re-teams the charismatic comedic twosome, throws an outlandish party and invites everyone to witness the mayhem.

Fun is high on the agenda, and laughs are too — aka everything anyone could want when two of their favourite stars join forces once again. But even with such a pedigree, there's a difference between an enjoyable film and an excellent one, just as there's a difference between meeting expectations and exceeding them. Sisters' director Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect) and writer Paula Pell (another SNL alum) know their leads will put a smile on most people's faces simply by sharing screen time. They're also aware that the movie doesn't need to do much else. Accordingly, Sisters takes a well-worn scenario, adds a few just-as-recognisable issues, and hopes that the charm and hilarity of Fey and Poehler wins out.

Unsurprisingly, it does. The two play mismatched siblings forced to finally say goodbye to their childhood and face everything maturity entails. Fey's free-spirited hairdresser and single mother Kate can't hold down a job or find a permanent place to live, while Poehler's responsible nurse Maura has dedicated her post-divorce life to her job. They're summoned to their family home in Florida when their parents (James Brolin and Dianne Wiest) decide to sell. But before the sale goes through, the girls decide to throw one last party.

Adults behaving like teenagers may have worn somewhat thin, now that every second film is obsessed with states of arrested development. Still, you can trust Fey and Poehler to make the most of the concept. They're game for whatever comes their way — and plenty does. Sure, the script reverses their roles from Baby Mama, their last big-screen pairing, and then relies upon the usual march of escalating big-screen silliness. Yet even when the parade of outrageous antics seems familiar, nothing ever feels stretched or tiresome thanks to the central duo's winning chemistry and all-round energetic performances.

Moreover, while the leads are never anything less than a delight to watch, in a feature that's as much a reunion movie as it is a party movie, they're certainly not the only humorous highlights. Maya Rudolph threatens to steal every scene she's in as Kate and Maura's high school nemesis; Ike Barinholtz affably plays against type as Maura's love interest; and John Cena continues to amuse outside of the WWE arena. The movie's attempts to traverse darker territory aren't quite as successful as its jokes, though it's nice that there's something more to the film than Fey and Poehler acting wild and cracking wise. Though it's execution is slight and clumsy, the movie's initial nostalgia for times gone by blossoms into the bittersweet epiphany we all eventually have: that youthful dreams don't always come to pass.

Sisters is the type of film best consumed with an eager crowd. There's little that's unexpected here, with the film largely content with letting two of the funniest people on the planet do their thing. And you know what? That's okay. When it comes to laughs, Sisters well and truly delivers — and throws in a great dance routine set to Snow's 'Informer' as well.

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