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Starring Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, Ike Barinholtz, James Brolin, Dianne Wiest, John Cena, John Leguizamo, Bobby Moynihan
Screenplay by Paula Pell
Directed by Jason Moore

December 18, 2015

IN SHORT: For ladies who suffer no Star Wars phallic or comedic envy. [Rated R for crude sexual content and language throughout, and for drug use. 118 minutes]

Sisters is such a rocking mess that our IN SHORT summary points out that there are legitimate laughs in the Star Wars The Force Awakens screenplay. There are a lot more laffs in Sisters, because it tries harder. It is a better example of what kind of trouble SNL staffers (or ex-SNL staffers) can get into once they are freed of the confines of the flat screens now bolted to American walls.

That Sisters has the -- you should pardon the expression -- cajones to open opposite the tragedy that numbers itself "seven" (those last seven words construct a movie trivia pun that maybe we'll explain after we've come back from jumping into the deep end. . . . or maybe not. The movie named "se7en" was about a murderer, which is what Star Wars The Force Awakens is going to do to Sisters at the box office. But I Digress . . .

"But I Digress" was the title given to a column of comic book and comic strip commentary by writer Peter David in a now defunct fanzine turned magazine called The Buyer's Guide for Comics Fandom. If your local newspaper still has a page of comics, or perhaps a couple of sheets in color on Sunday, you know that the standard comic tells one and only one joke. One "laff." That is what live-and-kicking comedians used to do on stage, one joke after another and another and another, which is what Sisters does once it gets itself up to speed. Its jokes tend to be about what comes out of certain body parts, or the inadvertent comedy that comes with accidentally, potentially damaging various body parts. Cranky is done Digressin' . . .

We could use that last word to kick off a paragraph about Hillbilly humor, of which there is none in Sisters. So, we'll keep it to this line.

The "sisters" of the title are Kate Ellis (Tina Fey) and Maura (Amy Poehler). Drawing from context we think that Kate was the wild child. She's got attitude and a mouth to go with it, which is polite-speak for she can't hold down a job. Kate has a teenaged daughter named Haley (Madison Davenport), currently a runaway -- we're guessing the apple doesn't fall far from the tree -- though Kate does not seem nearly as concerned about that situation as she should be. [Do not ask "Where's Poppa?" That 1970 movie turned television sitcom was not nearly as funny as any five minute segment of Sisters, and we haven't even teased y'all about the plot.] The latter sister, Maura, is a just divorced nurse who is so determined to help people that the people she tries to help run away.

This is, after all, a comedy.

When the pair learn that parental units Bucky (James Brolin) and Deana (Dianne Wiest) have sold off the family homestead in favor of retirement in one of those newfangled condominiums, both sisters jet home to Orlando, Florida to stop the deal. Failing that, to destroy the house with a balls-to-the-wall, tear-down-the-sucker party to end all parties in the now empty house. The kind of party they wished they could have thrown in high school which they couldn't because, you know, they were in high school. Since all their high school friends like Pazuzu (John Cena) and Alex (Bobby Moynihan) aren't in high school anymore they all can party like, well, like it's Nineteen Ninety Nine. As long as Brinda (Maya Rudolph) doesn't get in to the party, all will be well with the world. Brinda, of course, is going to be at the party, no matter what it takes. What it also takes is a drug connection Dave (John Leguizamo) and the guy who brings the pharmacy (Mark Wahlberg - pumped up to Ah-nold-like proportions) and a neighbor named James (Ike Barinholtz) , who has caught Maura's eye.

There is a clever subplot involving a Korean nail salon worker called Hae Won (Greta Lee) which we won't even hint at. To do so would spoil too many jokes, and jokes are what this film is built on. The overreaching story barely maintains coherence but seriously, do you really expect it to? Add one more plot twist in the Third Act and, perhaps, if the film survives its first weekend, word of mouth from those who enter the theater in an enhanced state -- and a lot of people have watched Saturday Night Live during the Fey and Poehler years -- may help it survive weekend number two.

But we're guessing that all those ex-viewers will download Sisters to their in-home systems and get high there.]

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Sisters, he would have paid . . .

$4 or $5

One way or another, this is a dateflick for every (couple) who couldn't get in to see . . . or wouldn't be caught dead seeing Star Wars The Force Awakens.

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