Tina Fey and Amy Poehler look nothing alike, yet it makes perfect sense for them to play siblings in “Sisters.” Their chemistry goes so far beyond the usual comedy-team click, it really does seem genetic.
The two are cast somewhat against type, which highlights their versatility more than anything. Poehler plays uptight do-gooder Maura Ellis, who learns that her parents (Dianne Wiest and James Brolin) are preparing to sell the family home. They are all reluctant to tell Fey’s volatile, immature Kate, who responds to the news with an actual tantrum. The sisters’ one link to happy childhood stability is being bought by strangers.
Naturally, the only response is to have one final, epic house party, the kind that made them popular in high school. With Mom and Dad settling into their new condo, the sisters have the place to themselves long enough to invite their old classmates over, plus a few random guests (including a cute neighbor played by Ike Barinholtz of “The Mindy Project”). Kate will take Maura’s usual role as the “party mom,” keeping things under control so Maura can finally cut loose.
It turns out that when you get repressed 40-somethings hammered, they become insane in ways their teenage selves could never have imagined. The out-of-control bash is a comedy staple, and “Sisters” aims to make all previous versions look like church picnics. Drunken dance numbers and awkward flirting (d)evolve into drug-induced mania and unspeakable acts with household items. No person — or object — is safe.
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Director Jason Moore (“Pitch Perfect”) doesn’t do much besides point the camera and let his stars riff, but that’s all he needs to do. Not only have Fey and Poehler brought their own A-games, they’ve recruited a dream supporting cast. When Maya Rudolph and John Leguizamo are the co-stars least likely to steal scenes, you know you’ve got a houseful of talent.
Screenwriter Paula Pell has been a regular Fey/Poehler collaborator since their “Saturday Night Live” days, and her own adolescence provided inspiration for the script. In the vein of “Bridesmaids” and “Trainwreck,” “Sisters” pushes its R rating about as far as it will go, and Pell relies on her stars to make the umpteenth penis joke seem more funny than desperate. With Fey and Poehler, the giddy enjoyment is impossible to resist.
If you’re going to have wildly inappropriate relatives around, it may as well be these “Sisters.” You know you’ll always have a good time.
Find more reviews by freelancer Loey Lockerby at suchacritic.com.
Rated R. Time: 1:58.