When the Ellis sisters, the always-responsible Maura (Amy Poehler) and impossibly hotheaded Kate (Tina Fey), receive word from their retired mom and dad that their family home is on the market, they discover they have one weekend left to clean out the old junk in their bedroom. As they comb through the artifacts of their teen years, Maura and Kate's trip down memory lane leads them to a seemingly crazy plan. Looking to recapture their glory days, the sisters throw one final "Ellis Island" blowout for their classmates, resulting in the cathartic rager that a bunch of ground-down adults really need.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have worked together long enough and have such great chemistry together that someone could probably just put a camera on them for a couple hours and come away with a frequently amusing piece of entertainment. And that's not far off from what we get with 'Sisters', as these two get stuck in a storyline that is both clichéd and over-the-top, yet there's still a number of laughs to be had. The movie doesn't really work, but I still enjoyed watching these two together on screen.
As you've probably guessed by the title, Tina and Amy play a pair of sisters in the movie. Amy stars as the more reserved, play-by-the-book Maura – who makes her living as a nurse, while Tina is the wilder and raunchier sister, Kate, who is struggling to make ends meet as a beautician. Kate is a single mother to Haley (Madison Davenport), while Maura is divorced but has no children of her own. As the movie opens, the two siblings come together when Maura learns that their parents (played by James Brolin and Dianne Wiest) have decided to sell their house in Orlando.
The sisters return to their childhood home and, after spending some time rummaging through their old stuff, decide that before they say goodbye to the house, they're going to throw one last party there. So the ladies start looking up and contacting their childhood friends and inviting them to the party – which is an opportunity for the movie to inhabit itself with a bunch of current and past 'Saturday Night Live' alumni, consisting of Kate McKinnon, Bobby Moynihan, Maya Rudolph, and Rachel Dratch. Other familiar faces like John Leguizamo, Samantha Bee, and John Cena are also attendees.
So, after setting up the premise, the whole second half of the movie deals with the party in question, which starts off slowly but eventually turns into a wild event where the house starts being destroyed by the guests (because, you know, that's never happened in a movie before!). There's also a bit of a romance brewing for Maura, as a guy (played by Ike Barinholtz) the sisters hit on while driving by his house early in the movie is invited to come to the party as well.
Obviously, the filmmakers (the movie is penned by 'Saturday Night Live' writer Paula Pell and directed by Pitch Perfect's Jason Moore) thought they had a pretty good idea by throwing a bunch of (mostly) middle-aged actors into a scenario that we usually only see in teen comedies, but honestly they never explore the premise to its full potential. What I did like about 'Sisters' is the move they made in having Amy play the straight-laced sister and Tina play the wild (and quite profane) one – it plays against the way I would have thought the roles would have been cast, as I think most of us would expect Tina to play the reserved sister and Amy play the one who loves to party.
Despite being disappointed by the movie, I can't say I didn't laugh a lot – just not as much as I would have hoped to going into it. The two comedians have such a natural chemistry with one another that it's hard not to smile at many of their antics and one-liners – but there's just too much in 'Sisters' that misses the mark or falls completely flat in terms of comedy (Bobby Moynihan's character, as just one example, should have been totally excised from the movie) to recommend it. However, I still think that this is worth a look, particularly for fans of Tina and Amy.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Sisters' arrives on home video in this Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD combo pack. The 50GB Blu-ray and dual-layer DVD are housed inside an eco-Lite Vortex keepcase, which also includes a code for both an UltraViolet and iTunes copy of only the Unrated version of the movie. A slipcover with artwork matching that of the keepcase slides overtop. Both the DVD and the Blu-ray are front loaded with trailers for 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt', Rock the Kasbah, Big Stone Gap, 'Kindergarten Cop 2', Legend, and Ride Along 2. The main menu is a still of Amy and Tina in a bathtub together with menu selections running down the left side of the screen per the usual Universal Blu-ray style.
The Blu-ray in this release is region-free.
'Sisters' was shot digitally and is presented here in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio. For the most part, the image here looks like what one would suspect for a recently shot digital movie. Details are sharp, colors are properly rendered, and there's a nice bit of depth to most of the scenes. Black levels are nicely done as well, so delineation in some of the darker moments isn't much of a problem, although a touch of noise does creep in every now and again.
I did pick up on some very minor aliasing during a couple of camera pans, but for the most part, this transfer is glitch-free, and doesn't suffer any major issues with things like banding, haloing, excessive noise, or the like. I was especially appreciative of the fact that the movie's party sequences – which generally occur with flashing lights and/or the actors' faces bathed in different colors from the lighting – didn't cause any problematic issues here. Viewers and/or potential buyers should be quite happy with the image on this release, which while not top-notch, provides for a pleasant viewing.
The featured audio is an English DTS-HD Master Audio track that provides for a decent-enough aural experience. All of the dialogue comes from the front center speaker, meaning it's up to the four surround speakers and the subwoofer to fill in the rest. Directionality and any immersiveness is fairly lacking here; however, the surrounds really come to life during the many musical numbers incorporated into the movie, including some fun low-end LFE 'thumping' during applicable tunes. While the music is often louder than the spoken word, the mix here is decent enough that it's not a huge problem and didn't have me reaching for my remote during some of the quieter scenes. I also didn't note any glitches in the audio during my viewing/listening. All in all, a nicely rendered track from Universal.
In addition to the lossless English track, 5.1 DTS Digital Surround tracks are available in both Spanish and French, and a 2.0 English Descriptive Video Service track is also available. Subtitles are available in English SDH, Spanish, and French.
In addition to the bonus materials listed below, both the Blu-ray and the DVD offer up two versions of the movie: the original theatrical version and an 'Unrated' version, which runs about 5 minutes longer.
- Feature Commentary with Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Director Jason Moore, and Writer Paula Pell – Actually more entertaining than the movie itself, this primarily scene-specific commentary track is the perfect example of how to do commentaries 'right'. Instead of sitting there and re-hashing the plot or telling viewers what the characters are supposed to be thinking, the four participants give us some wonderful behind the scenes stories of what the shoot was like and insight into many of the other actors who appear in the movie. It's an entertaining – and often funny – track that is a must-listen.
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 18 min.) – A collection of nine deleted scenes from the movie, which can be watched individually or all together. These consist of: 'The Dan and Kim Story' (6 ½ min.), 'The Cover Charge Runner' (2 ½ min.), 'Arrival at the Parents' Condo' (1 min.), 'Kate's Tale of Woe' (1 min.), 'Maura Controls Her Feelings' (1 ½ min.), 'Maura Pushes Too Hard' (1 ½ min.), 'Brinda Wreaks More Havoc' (1 min.), 'The Geernts Get Theirs' (2 min.), and 'Maura Takes One Last Look' (½ min.).
- Extended Scenes (HD, 17 min.) – A collection of nine longer versions of scenes that are shorter in the theatrical cut. These consist of: 'Shopping with Brinda' (4 ½ min.), 'Hae-Won Arrives' (1 min.), 'Uh-Oh – It's a PoPo' (1 ½ min.), 'Kate Has to Party-Mom Kelly' (2 min.), 'Kate and Alex Go Downhill' (1 min.), 'Maura and James Review High School' (1 min.), 'Hae-Won and Kate Reminisce' (1 min.), 'Brinda Gets the Sale' (1 ½ min.), and 'Be That You' (3 min.).
- Gag Reel (HD, 3 min.) – Neither as long nor as funny as most fans would probably hope for, this short bloopers reel shows some of the flubbed lines from the filming of the movie.
- The Improvorama (HD, 8 ½ min.) – A collection of some of the different line readings given (most of them ad-libbed by the actors I'm guessing) in various scenes in the movie. Some of these are quite funny and more than a few I wish could have found their way into the final cut.
'Sisters' isn't a great movie. It's full of a lot of raunchy clichés that we've seen in dozen of other 'party' flicks like this one (albeit usually with teen actors) and for as many jokes that hit the mark, just as many – if not more – misfire. Still, there's no denying that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are fun to watch and have great chemistry together. But this is one you'll want to rent or check out on a rainy day rather than adding it to your current collection. That said, I still think it's worth a look.
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