Blu-ray Review: Sisters (2015)

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Tina Fey and Amy Poehler work so well together, they almost save the uneven Sisters, at least during its first half. The bawdy comedy opened as counter-programming against Star Wars: The Force Awakens just before the holidays. Though it didn't light any fires at the box office, it found an audience and will probably find a much wider one when it hits Blu-ray on March 15 (also available on DVD and Digital HD; the Blu-ray Combo Pack includes all three formats) via Universal Studios.

Fey and Poehler seem hellbent on making it clear that fortysomething male actors don't have the market cornered on arrested development-based raunch comedies. Kate (Fey) and Maura (Poehler) Ellis find out their parents are planning to sell their childhood home. Maura is the more responsible of the two, a do-gooder nurse who assumes anyone sitting on a street corner must be homeless and in need of assistance. Her parents, Bucky (James Brolin) and Deana (Dianne Weist), task her with breaking the news to free-spirited Kate. Kate's life is a wreck. She has a teen daughter, Haley (Madison Davenport), who doesn't live with her. In fact, Haley doesn't even want her mom to know where she lives.

There's plenty of character to mine here and, for a while, Fey and Poehler have fun establishing their roles. Upon arriving at their parents' home to clean out their bedrooms (which have remained apparently untouched since they moved out), they're angered by the fact that the house is already sold. The yuppie couple who bought it immediately annoy the sisters. They encounter townies with whom they went to high school, including horndog Dave (John Leguizamo) and uptight Brinda (Maya Rudolph).

Some of this material reminded me of a dumbed-down take on the insightful Jason Reitman-directed (and Diablo Cody-written) Young Adult. Early-middle aged woman, profoundly unhappy with her life, returns to her hometown to face unresolved issues from the past. The big problem with Sisters isn't that it takes a more simple-minded approach to its subject matter. It's that the filmmakers (including screenwriter Paula Pell) stumble directly into a pit of cliches. After setting up the sisters and their plight, Sisters devolves into an overgrown frat house party flick. Kate and Maura decide to host one last blow out, inviting all their old high school friends to get drunk, stoned, and out of control. It gets boring very quickly, especially considering that the party dominates the entire second half of the film. 
 
sisters bd (304x380).jpg Universal's Blu-ray supplements the 1080p high definition transfer and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 surround mix with a generous selection of extras. The film itself is presented in both its theatrical and unrated cuts (the latter runs about four minutes longer). As is pretty typical for this type of comedy, there's a ton of deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, and a "Improvorama" compilation that shows how loosely the screenplay was adhered to during shooting. There are several featurettes that are as light as the movie they're promoting, including the lengthiest (at ten minutes), "A Teen Movie... For Adults." Perhaps most interesting for Amy Poehler and Tina Fey fans is their audio commentary, for which they're joined by director Jason Moore and writer Paula Pell.

Sisters starts off pretty engagingly, thanks almost entirely to the chemistry between its leading ladies. But the whole thing turns dismally predictable once its near-total lack of ambition is revealed.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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