Review / ‘Sisters’ (MA) 116 mins *

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THE main comic credentials of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler come not from feature films but from US TV sitcoms packaged in 30 minute slabs (less advertising breaks). Dissatisfied viewers can turn off or take toilet breaks or make a coffee or get another beer from the fridge.

The ticket-buying film-goer’s options for a movie that falls short of expectations come down to two – walk out, or tough it out. So how does “Sisters” stack up, the first feature written by Paula Pell, directed by Jason Moore, both after TV careers?

After moving to a smaller condo, Bucky (James Brolin) and Deanna (Dianne Weiss) are selling the family home. They ask their daughters, well paid childless divorcee Maura (Poehler) and divorced beautician mum Kate (Fey) who has problems holding a job, to come home and clean out their shared bedroom. That foundation promises Pell (mainly) and Moore scope for building something worth watching.

Alas, promise soon declines into a mish-mash of vignettes developing into cliché and fatuity until the thinking viewer might be forgiven for wondering, how can the sisters get out of the consequences of a house party to which they have invited their chums from adolescence, now in their mid forties and showing the wear and tear of the years.

Fey and Poehler dutifully follow the screenplay and the director’s directions and bank the salary cheques. But by failing on a grand scale to clothe its founding promise with freshness, invention or imagination, Pell’s screenplay saddles director Moore with limited options – resign, demand a re-write or turn a bum deal into something better than its parts. He does none of those things. The result is a film silly to the max, truly funny in only a few of its moments.

At all cinemas

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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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