(On Cable TV, September 2016) Seeing Tina Fey and Amy Poehler riff off each other is nearly always fun, and Sisters heighten the pleasure by going to the less obvious route of making Fey the irresponsible sister, while making Poehler play the mature one. The film takes a while to get going, but it becomes markedly more enjoyable once the pieces are assembled for a wild let’s-recapture-our-youth party. Sisters, in many ways, isn’t all that different from other recent R-rated female-centred comedies (Bad Moms especially comes to mind) in blending a bit of raunch, wild pasts, property destruction and acting out against social pressures. The first hour is a bit bland, but the second one lets loose to good effect. One of the interesting things about Sisters is how it doesn’t end as soon as the party has caused thousands of dollars in damages—it keeps going, making amends and repairs. Fey is quite good as the rebellious sibling, while Poehler gets to be just as funny as the repressed one. While Sisters doesn’t amount to much more than an entertaining moment (I’d be surprised if it became anything more than a bargain-bin special, maybe as a bundle), it’s funny enough and doesn’t stop its leads from doing what they do best. Most comedies can’t even manage that, so consider this one successful.
(On Cable TV, February 2015) If you can’t be bothered to watch yet another romantic comedy, then how about a romantic comedy parody? They Came Together takes aim at rom-com clichés with a considerable amount of deadpan sarcastic silliness, using actors who have played those very same roles dozens of time before. To its credit, writer/director David Wain doesn’t try to parody specific scenes or movies, but stick to the archetypical structure of romantic comedies as a clothesline on which to hang the gags. (“Oh, and… Thanks.”) Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler ably anchor a large cast of familiar comic actors, which adds to the interest. As the kind of comic film that embraces absurdity and is willing to try just about anything to get a laugh, They Came Together is definitely uneven: good jokes can be followed by dumb stuff, and the film is a bit too fond of the idea that some things are funnier the more often they are repeated. (“Oh, and… Thanks.”) The humor is a bit snarkier-than-thou –which is a way of saying that some will laugh a lot and others won’t see the point. It may be a bit too clever for its own good at times, but I’ll take excessive cleverness over the kind of painfully unfunny stupidity that parodies have all-too-often become over the past two decades. They Came Together is best seen without too many preconceptions, and funny enough to stock up a late evening.