In this image released by Universal Pictures, Amy Poehler, left, and Tina Fey appear in a scene from the film, "Sisters." (K. C. Bailey/Universal Pictures via AP)

In this image released by Universal Pictures, Amy Poehler, left, and Tina Fey appear in a scene from the film, "Sisters." (K. C. Bailey/Universal Pictures via AP)

Reeling it in: Hard to play along with ‘Sisters’


Universal Pictures

1 hour, 58 minutes

This week I was discussing with some friends about why it is that sometimes the movie theater doesn’t get the movie you think it should. Even when it seems incredibly obvious that they should get that movie. Even when the alternative to the movie you want to see is an obnoxious animated robot mess that looks like a rehash of every other bad kid’s movie from the last five years.

The movie we all wanted to see, but were denied, is the new Key and Peele comedy, “Keanu,” about a couple of guys looking for their missing kitten, who just happens to be named after a certain Zen action hero. The trailers and the buzz on that movie are great, but instead our theaters are crammed with poorly received junk — “The Hunstman,” “Criminal,” and the video game adaptation, “Ratchet and Clank.” For the theater playing “Huntsman,” “Criminal,” and “The Boss,” keeping the junk in place is just to hold space for this weekend’s behemoth, “Captain America: Civil War.”

But for the other theater it’s not so clear-cut. It seems like the answer would be obvious. A kid’s movie sells more popcorn than an R-rated comedy does. But I wonder if it wasn’t a miscalculation. “Keanu” is shaping up to be a modest hit and the few people that saw “Ratchet” don’t have much good to say. But then again, the whole thing’s a crap-shoot anyway. If I could predict which shows would be hits and which would be flops, Triumvirate Theatre would be producing on Broadway by now, so who knows?

All prognosticating aside, I did see a film this weekend, though I’m not sure how much I’d recommend it.

Last year’s “Sisters,” the Amy Poehler/Tina Fey sibling comedy was released on the same day as “Star Wars,” and in the all the hoopla, I missed it, despite the fact that I love both of those actresses. I suppose I could have taken one of the four times I saw “Star Wars” in the theater to see “Sisters,” but I usually had my kids with me, and that wouldn’t have been a good fit.

The film tells the tale of two sisters, one responsible (Poehler’s Maura) and one a hot mess (Fey’s Kate). When it is revealed that Maura and Kate’s parents are selling the family home to live in a swanky retirement community, the two girls decide to drive down and confront mom and dad and convince them to reconsider. Kate has a plan to move her and her estranged college-aged daughter into the house, and a sale would ruin everything.

When our heroines arrive, however, they find that the sale is all but a done deal, the house cleaned out entirely except for their old room, kept mysteriously intact from their high school days some 20 years previous. In retaliation, or as catharsis, maybe, the two decide to throw a massive party, just like they used to in high school, and invite all their old classmates. I can’t imagine how this could possibly go wrong.

Actually I could, and I’m sure you can too, and I’m talking about the movie, not the party. The first half of “Sisters” is funny. It’s in no way believable, but it’s funny, and it’s easy to watch.

It’s only in the last half where, in an effort to make the party ever-escalating, that things begin to go seriously off the rails. By the end, things have gotten so stupid and, frankly, unpleasant to watch, that the movie completely lost me. But in the beginning, held together on the considerable strength of Fey and Poehler’s chemistry, the movie works.

The plot, in no way, makes sense — who behaves this way? How much money do all of these people have? Who, outside of drug addicts, would be so blithely selfish and oblivious as these supposed adults? No one, that’s who, but if you put that aside and watch it with the same suspension of disbelief as, as my wife pointed out, an 80s sitcom, it makes a kind of sense. The back half gets too zany, to destructive, and too gross, however, to sustain the illusion.

If you like these two amazing comedians, then “Sisters” might be worth a look. But be prepared to be more annoyed and less amused as time goes by. By the end, the film is a broken shadow of what it might have been, dragged down by obnoxious gross-out scenes and cringe-worthy dialogue, especially from veteran comic actress Diane Wiest.

Now, to be fair, I must admit I was watching the “unrated” version, the only way the film is available on iTunes. I can only hope some of the worst of what I saw was originally on the cutting room floor.

Grade: C-

“Sisters,” as I saw it, was rated R originally, for language, some violence, and sexual situations. Currently it’s Unrated, for more of the same.

Chris Jenness is a freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.

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