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quarta-feira, 16 de dezembro de 2015
Sisters review: 'cheerfully vulgar'
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's funny, slightly smarter take on Step Brothers doesn't go far enough
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s three-year stint as co-hosts of the Golden Globes was by any measure extraordinarily successful. But how to follow it? Fun as it may sound, their first film together since then could have hardly just involved the pair of them standing at a lectern, lobbing insult grenades at George Clooney.
So that’s why we have Sisters: a cheerful, efficiently vulgar comedy about mismatched adult siblings with a lot of growing up to do, but no particular inclination to get on with it.
Fey plays Kate, a scrappy single mother and beautician, and the elder of the two, while Poehler is Maura, a compulsively charitable divorcee and nurse. Paula Pell’s screenplay positions the two as carefully measured equals and opposites – but comedy doesn’t always balance like that, and in practice, Poehler’s character proves to be by far the most interestingly funny.
Kate is confident enough to brazen out any misunderstanding or mishap – embarrassment rolls off her like rain from a flysheet – while when things go wrong for Maura, you can actually watch her soul wilt in real time.
Take the opening sequence, in which Maura mistakes a hipster in thick beard and ripped jeans for a tramp and offers him some spray-on sun cream and an inspirational bookplate. The result is a delightfully low-key public humiliation.
Fey’s one-liners mostly land with a pleasing splat – there’s a particularly juicy one about the high-street fashion brand Forever 21 – but despite a teenage daughter character (played by Madison Davenport) who appears to have been written expressly for this purpose, there’s never a moment at which it feels like much is at stake for her, which leaves the film lop-sided.
The story begins with both women being summoned to Florida by their parents (James Brolin and an occasionally uproarious Dianne Wiest), who have recently relocated to a retirement community and need their daughters to clear out their bedrooms at their old family home. But while doing so, they decide to host a high-school reunion party: firstly to give the house the send-off it deserves, and secondly so Maura can mount a last-ditch attempt to get lucky in her childhood bed.
As they both dig through their old toy boxes and pore over cringeworthy diary entries, it feels as if Sisters’ main seam of humour might be the terrifying ease with which two functioning adults revert to their teenage selves – a kind of (very slightly) smarter spin on Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly’s lunkheaded masterpiece Step Brothers. But that early promise gives way a more straightforward comedy about 40-somethings who behave like 16-year-olds at an increasingly chaotic house party.
Maya Rudolph is scrambled to pull a range of appalled faces as Brinda, the former high-school queen bee, while John Leguizamo slides and sleazes around as Dave, the drop-out who has since acquired a liquor licence and a hulking business associate called Pazuzu (professional wrestler John Cena) with a reinforced suitcase of illegal substances.
The handful of new acquaintances present include local pedicurist Hae-won (Greta Lee), and James (Ike Barinholtz), a neighbour from down the street whose bulky arms look like just the things to drag Maura out of the post-divorce doldrums. Beneath them is a tier of minor supporting characters that all belie Pell’s background as a sketch-writer on Saturday Night Live, by which I mean they’re overplayed, single-note stereotypes that each enormously outstays their welcome.
Sisters is entertaining as far as it goes, but it only occasionally feels like it’s going far enough. That’s not something that could be said of Fey and Poehler’s Golden Globes work – and while I laughed a fair amount, boy, did I miss the wincing.