If you’re thinking the innocent-house-party-goes-wrong storyline has already been milked, you’d be right. Sisters shamelessly ignores this critical fact, slapping it in the face with some often risqué but just about tasteful adult comedy from Mean Girls stars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Whether this thin cloak of salacious laughs is enough to mask the film’s sincere lack of substance or wit is up to the viewer’s comedy threshold to decide.
The story follows the Ellis sisters on a journey back into their childhood as they revisit their parents’ house once more, before it is sold. Immature and lacking a secure adult life, Katie Ellis convinces her responsible divorcee sister Maura that they should hold one last party in the giant stripped-out mansion. After a slow start, the inevitable happens. Alcohol and drugs begin to flow freely and we are taken through the party-movie checklist of attempted police shutdowns and swimming pool mishaps.
There’s no denying that this blueprint works. Watching a good party makes you want to party, and seeing the familiar ingredients of all our favourite nights replicated in exaggerated form always carries a satisfying nostalgic haze. After an opening full of cringe-worthy jokes about bushes and sister-threesomes that accidentally reek of bad taste or even misogyny, there are some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments on offer. These tend to come from well-executed slapstick routines rather than a pithy script; Maura’s flirtation project, James, has a run-in with a ballerina doll and his backside that will be the climax of hilarity for some and the moment to walk out for others.
What plagues Sisters, though, is its inherent lack of narrative interest. Writer Paula Pell’s attempt to attach a soppy maternal side-story fails not only due to the lack of development but because of its irrelevance to the essential enjoyment of this sort of film – the party! Frustratingly, the script is precariously teetering along the tightrope of good comedy throughout, the result being that you’re never quite sure if you’re watching something funny enough to combat this fundamental issue with the prescribed party-movie recipe. Just about holding the story together is Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s sibling relationship. Their experience gives the pair a certain endearing charm that helps the film to stagger to its unnecessarily emotional ending.
Sisters, then, is no ground-breaking comedy. It’s a familiar formula – just make sure it’s a formula you enjoy before booking tickets.
Sisters is released nationwide on 18th December 2015.
Watch the trailer for Sisters here: