Review – Oy Fey! What Poehler Opposites! (“Sisters”)

Like bacon ‘n’ eggs, they’re great apart, but better together. I just love ’em. You’ve seen them together hosting SNL’s Weekend Update, the Golden Globe Awards, the Emmy’s, and countless TV shows as hosts, not to mention both starring in Mean Girls and Baby Mama. These two truly are sisters, if not born that way through birth.

With an A-typical script by SNL’s Paula Pell (the ol’ “one last blow-out party/time to grow up” plot), we are quickly introduced to our two main girls before the ruckus begins. Amy Poehler is Maura Ellis, the flighty blonde do-gooder divorced nurse who has a penchant for nervously saying the wrong thing at the wrong time and being the shy, but caring one in the family. Her wild ‘n’ wacky auburn haired sister, Kate (Fey), is a raucous, fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants conniving single mom who can’t hold a job and always speaks her mind. . . unfortunately.

Kate’s college age daughter, Hayley (Madison Davenport) is having a hard time with mom and her bumblebee job and home hopping, not to mention not always being there for her. But the real chaotic news comes from the sister’s hipster parents (James Brolin and Dianne Weist). We’ve sold our childhood home, so go get all your stuff outta there before the new tenants move in! Horrified at the prospect, Maura and Kate go to Florida to bask in their 80’s room decor (Xanadu, Michael J. Fox, and Jaws posters plus lava lamps) and decide to creep out the new buyers long enough to throw one helluva final party!

The invitees include liquor store owner Dave (John Leguizamo), his stone-faced drug buddy Pazuzu (a very funny John Cena), and a host of SNL alumni like Rachel Dratch as a ‘Debby Downer’-ish Kelly, Bobby Moynihan as Alex, the lamest jokester ever, and Maya Rudolph as the uppity Brinda who plots revenge after getting kicked out. There’s also a bevy of hot Korean girls from the local nail salon from an earlier side plot. But Maura has her sights on James (Ike Barinholtz), the hunky young stud neighbor that she invited. She woos him at the party, but a small figurine gets stuck in his . . . um, butt anyway . . .

Naturally, the party of 40-something’s gets WAY outta hand and the place get thrashed beyond belief, right before the parents call Kate and tell her she can have part of the sale money! Uh-oh! But, of course, things work out for the best in the end and all the problems that seemed insurmountable tie themselves up in a neat little bow. Y’know, just like in real life!

Okay, so this isn’t the best written screenplay in the stack, but it is a great showcase for Fey and Poehler and their well-known chemistry. This is like James Franco’s This Is The End, where the plot doesn’t really matter; it’s a bunch of buddies getting together in a house to shoot a movie and have tons of fun, and the hell with the script. You’ve seen party thrashing movies before from Animal House to Project X, so don’t expect any surprises there. The laughs are derived from the quick and witty repartee of the seasoned cast. The nail salon scene alone is worth the price of admission as is drug seller John Cena offering everything from weed to Flintstones chewable vitamins. Mind you, they’re not all comic gold like that, some fall terribly flat.

Director Jason Moore (this is his only his second feature film) does a good job, but not much flair since leaving his days of directing TV shows like Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill. Pretty standard stuff, but that’s all that’s needed here with a standard script. All you gotta do is point the camera at gem’s Fey and Poehler and you’ve got comedy, even if they were just reading the phone book aloud. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing Tina Fey in the upcoming Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. That looks terrific!

Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?  (1962)

*

*
Back in 1962, the Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s of their time were two powerhouse actresses: Betty Davis and Joan Crawford. They went at each other like evil sisters in one of the most electrifying performances ever seen on the silver screen. Davis and Crawford, at the top of their acting games (and massive ego’s), starred in a movie about two sisters that have little love for each other.If you’ve ever asked yourself whatever happens to a child star who gets stuck playing a child star far into their adult lives and then has a psychotic break in doing so, then this is the movie for you! Meet Baby Jane Hudson (Davis), an aged and really demented ex-child star that lives in the home of her sister, Blanche Hudson (Crawford). Now Blanche was also a movie star, but a glamorous one whose career eclipsed her sister’s, but was tragically cut short due to a mysterious car accident that left her in a wheelchair

These two live together: Jane, an alcoholic mess still living in the delusional past (she still wears her old childhood wardrobe) and Blanche under the torturous care (and rage) of her jealous sister. This includes verbal and physical abuse, dinners that include baked rat and Blanche’s pet parakeets, going through her mail, telling her lies, and cutting off her phone calls. Like a prisoner trying to escape, Blanche tries to get help, but all her attempts to communicate with the outside world are foiled by her dingbat, crazy sis.

Meanwhile, a talented down-and-out man named Edwin Flagg (Victor Buono) answers Jane’s newspaper advertisement for a piano player and when Edwin shows up at the house, Jane grotesquely performs her signature song from her childhood movie, “I’ve Written a Letter to Daddy,” while Edwin plays the piano in stunned silence. The movie reaches a fever pitch when Jane murders their housekeeper and then imagines that Blanche is having an affair with her “boyfriend”, Edwin! The sickening ending is twisted and doesn’t quite give you an answer as to the certainty of Blanche’s life or death. You have to make that decision yourself.

Directed by Robert Aldrich in glorious black and white, this unsettling movie is dark, disturbing, and has the classic line delivered by Davis: “But you ARE, Blanche, you ARE!!”, in reference to Blanche being in the wheelchair. The acting is top-notch and worthy of renting just to watch these two women act the hell out of this movie. In real life the two hated each other, which added realism to each scene. The subject matter was so intense that the U.K. gave it their “X” rating. Highly recommended.

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