SISTERS, US 2015. Starring Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, Ike Barinholtz, James Brolin, Dianne Wiest, John Cena, John Leguizamo, Bobby Moynihan, Greta Lee, Madison Davenport. Directed by Jason Moore.  118 minutes.  Rated MA (Strong coarse language).

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey can be very funny, in sketches from Saturday Night Live, hosting award shows, playing off each other in comic sketches. They are both very funny here – at times. Again, they play off each other as two sisters, Tina Fey opting for raucous and broad humour, Amy Poehler, not necessarily avoiding the broad humour, but playing a character who has much more subtlety in her make up.

This is a comedy for those like to go out and let their hair down – as the two comedians are doing in their performances. It is raucous, often crass and crude, often unsubtle, with a house party that rivals the destructive mess in such films as Animal House.

The basic plot concerns their long-suffering parents, Dianne Wiest (who gets a chance to use some words that she never uses in other films) and James Brolin, who decide to sell their Florida house. Maura, Amy Poehler, is one of those people who has a great need to help others, offering advice to seeming beggars on the street (who aren’t), caring for her sisters daughter, a nurse by profession. Her parents tell her about the sale but cannot face up to telling her sister, Kate, Tina Fey.

The sisters decide to visit the parents with Kate discovering the plan and horrified. She is a manicurist, with an unguarded mouth, who loses her job. Her daughter, Hayley, Madison Davenport, is one of those sensible adolescents with a sense of responsibility which compels her to try to do her best for her mother and to control her. Kate has the bright idea that they could live in the family home until she gets another job. She pretends to get another job, Maua and her parents thinking she has one, and she continues to coast along, Hayley deciding that she cannot stay with her mother until she settles down.

This is the place where the sisters grew up, they have many friends, including loudmouthed Dave, John Leguizamo, who flirts, Alex, Bobby Moynihan, who is a nerd and tries to be a comedian at every opportunity, and Brinda, Maya Rudolph, once a friend but alienated by Kate when they were young but now bent on revenge.

Because the house is to be sold, the sisters decide to have a party, invite everyone, all hair down, no holds barred – and plenty of holds are unbarred during the party, Maura wanting to let her hair down and let go of her sense of responsibility and persuading Kate not to drink and to be the party house mother.

The party is raucous, very raucous, very loud, and goes on, and on, and on. The mess is quite devastating – and, of course, the parents turn up.

Maura has met a pleasant man, doing some building renovations, James, Ike Barinholtz, and invites him to the party, falls for him – until he experiences a fairly demeaning joke involving about arena toy and Beethoven’s Fur Elise. But, of course, he does help with the renovations and the cleanup. Maura is given various lectures that she does not have too absolutely help everyone. Kate make some resolutions, especially for the sake of Hayley.

And, as with all these raucous American comedies, everything ends up very properly and just so.

Universal.  Released 14th January.

Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting

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