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Thursday , August 18 2022

Family ties tested in ‘Sisters’ – Chemistry of Fey, Poehler unquestionable

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This photo provided by Universal Pictures shows Tina Fey (left), as Kate Ellis and Amy Poehler as Maura Ellis, in a scene from the film ‘Sisters’, directed by Jason Moore. (AP)
This photo provided by Universal Pictures shows Tina Fey (left), as Kate Ellis and Amy Poehler as Maura Ellis, in a scene from the film ‘Sisters’, directed by Jason Moore. (AP)

In “Sisters,” Tina Fey and Amy Poehler attempt to bring the most teenage of comedy genres — that of keg stands — into middle age.

They’re a long way from your usual house party movie hosts — your Belushis and your Efrons — and that’s the point. Trying on ill-fitting dresses for their planned big bash, they request something “a little less Forever 21 and a little more Suddenly 42”.

The film, written by Paula Pell (a “Saturday Night Live” veteran, like Poehler and Fey) and directed by Jason Moore (“Pitch Perfect”), is a brazenly crude farce about female arrested development that doesn’t so much seek to rise above its ludicrous absurdity as much as ride it out.

It’s a bumpy ride. While the tremendous wit and chemistry of Fey and Poehler is unquestionable, the big-screen meeting of the former “Weekend Update” hosts feels overwhelming mismatched. For starters, it’s hard to imagine either being from Orlando.

That’s the hometown of Maura (Poehler) and Kate Ellis (Fey), whose parents (played by Dianne Wiest and James Brolin) are selling their childhood home. This brings out oddly passionate feelings in Kate, a single-mother and jobless beautician.

Fey, the poster woman of quick-witted comic smarts, has here been cast against type. She’s the promiscuous, partying mess, while Poehler is the responsible, earnest career woman, recently divorced. It’s a miscalculation that does more to doom “Sisters” than anything else.

Old-fashioned

Fey and Poehler are, however, extremely game for the movie and up for any silliness or embarrassment if it gets a laugh. With their parents’ house already sold, they nostalgically sift through the relicts of their ‘80s-adorned bedroom and decide to invite their old high school classmates to an old-fashioned rager at “Ellis Island”.

The attendees are mostly parents that no longer know how to let loose, but a concoction of alcohol, drugs and desperation eventually unleashes a wildly freewheeling party that, naturally, spins out of control. There are handful of solid guests like Maya Rudolph (as Kate’s nemesis), John Cena (as a drug dealer, making his second fine comedy cameo of the year following “Trainwreck”) and John Leguizamo (as a sleazy alcoholic).

But is there any doubt that as soon as Bobby Moynihan’s sweaty nerd rings the doorbell, he’s going to steal the movie?

There are laughs here, for sure, like the uptight New Yorker couple buying the home, who declare: “I want the front yard to be open concept”.

But as has so often been the case when it comes to Fey’s movie choices, an opportunity has been lost. It’s becoming increasingly clear that if she’s ever to star in a movie as good as anything else she’s done (from “30 Rock” to her book, “Bossypants”) she’s going to have to write it herself.

In the meantime, she and Poehler host this week’s “Saturday Night Live.” Now that should be good.

“Sisters”, a Universal Pictures release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “crude sexual content and language throughout, and for drug use”. Running time: 118 mins. Two stars out of four.

Also:

LOS ANGELES: LD Entertainment has joined to finance and produce director Pablo Larrain’s “Jackie”, starring Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig and John Hurt. The first image from the production, showing Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy, has been released.

Darren Aronofsky is producing with his Protozoa Pictures partners Scott Franklin and Ari Handel, along with Fabula Films’ Juan de Dios Larrain and LD Entertainment’s Mickey Liddell.

“Jackie” follows the movements of Jacqueline Kennedy after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Noah Oppenheim (“Allegiant”) penned the script. Executive producers are LD Entertainment’s Jayne Hong, Pete Shilaimon and Jennifer Monroe, Why Not Productions’ Pascal Caucheteux, Bliss Media’s Wei Han, and Protozoa’ Joshua Stern.

Pablo Larrain and Juan de Dios Larrain’s “The Club” recently garnered a Golden Globe nomination for best motion picture — foreign language, representing Chile. Other credits include the political drama “No,” which received a 2012 Oscar nomination for foreign-language film. “Jackie” is their first English-language feature.

Protozoa, which is headed by Aronofsky, Handel and Franklin, has first-look deals with New Regency to develop films and HBO to develop television. Credits include “Noah”, “Black Swan”, “The Wrestler”, “The Fountain”, “Requiem for a Dream.”

“Jackie” joins a slate of LD Entertainment’s recent productions that includes Niki Caro’s “The Zookeeper’s Wife”, starring Jessica Chastain and Daniel Bruhl; Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s “Leavey”, starring Kate Mara and Edie Falco; Sean Ellis’ “Anthropoid”, with Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan; and “Risen” with Joseph Fiennes and Tom Felton.

Vincent Maraval’s Insiders represents international rights to “Jackie”, with Creative Artists Agency handling the US rights. Bliss Media China will distribute the film in China.

Universal will release “The Girl on The Train” on Oct 7, 2016, as it replaces Disney as the distributor of the Emily BluntRebecca Ferguson thriller.

“The Girl on the Train” is the first film to be released under the new partnership unveiled Wednesday by Universal and Amblin Partners, a new company announced by DreamWorks Studios, Participant Media, Reliance Entertainment and Entertainment One.

Disney, which has been distributing DreamWorks’ live-action movies since 2011, had announced the Oct 7, 2016, release for “The Girl on the Train” two months ago.

Universal also announced Wednesday it has moved “Monster High” out of the Oct 7, 2016, slot.

Ari Sandel came on to direct “Monster High” in October. Neil Meron, Craig Zadan, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage are producing the project, based on the line of Mattel toys undergoing the trials and tribulations of high school. “Monster High” has not been given a new date.

Oct 7 will also see the releases of Fox’s “Gambit,” Lionsgate’s “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” and Warner’s “The Accountant”.

Justin Theroux, Haley Bennett, Edgar Ramirez and Allison Janney also star in “The Girl on the Train” with Tate Taylor directing and Marc Platt producing. Based on the Paula Hawkins novel, Blunt portrays a woman devastated by her recent divorce who spends her daily commute fantasizing about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a house that her train passes — until she sees something shocking and becomes entangled in the mystery that unfolds.

DreamWorks acquired movie rights to Hawkins’ debut novel last year prior to publication and set Erin Cressida Wilson to adapt for the screen.

By Jake Coyle