Sisters told by parents to clean their room
Hold get-laid party lacking va va voom
“Quotes are usually short,” says nurse Maura Ellis (Amy Poehler) after reading a written demand for an apology from her big sister Katie (Tina Fey) who is angry that her daughter Hayley (Madison Davenport) has been secretly living with her aunt rather than a close friend. To which Katie replies, “So are dicks, but sometimes you hit the jackpot.” Unfortunately for director Jason Moore, who made his directorial debut with the a cappella comedy Pitch Perfect, and writer Paula Pell, a sketch writer for Saturday Night Live who has penned a couple of episodes of the award-winning sitcom 30 Rock, the plot drags and the punchlines land far from the bullseye.
Mom and Pop Ellis (a twinkly-eyed Dianne Wiest and stilted James Brolin) have sold the family home and asked their daughters to come back to Orlando to clean out their “bottomless pit” of a bedroom. Katie, a scatter-brained beauty therapist, is made homeless after one of her waxing strips is found in the faeces of her landlady’s mutt. Maura, a well-meaning but misguided divorcee who mistakes a construction worker for a tramp and offers him a can of deodorant (the comedy bar is set pretty low), is struggling to adjust to singledom and cites teaching herself to make cheese as the highlight of her Bridget Jones existence.
It sounds a hoot. And judging by the blooper outtakes at the end of the film, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler had a ball with their improvisational riffs and endless corpsing. However, whether it’s because I am neither American nor female, the humour got lost in translation. Granted, some of the sketches tickle the funny bone, particularly the exchange between Maura and her Korean manicurist Hae-Won as they mispronounce one another’s names. But misunderstandings over juice and Jews, double entendres that would give Julian Clary a run for his pink pound (“We’re looking for a yardman to work our bushes”) and shoe-horned reflections about “A house is just a building, a home is a feeling” don’t cut the Colman’s.
“Good things are hidden in the quiet,” says Katie in response to relationship-shy Maura’s confession that she finds the silence of her DIY boyfriend uncomfortable. There may, indeed, be good things in Sisters, but amid all the raucousness you’d be hard-pressed to find a quiet or for that matter subtle moment in which to appreciate them.
by Peter Callaghan