For two actresses with such undeniable chemistry, it’s downright criminal that it’s been seven years since “Saturday Night Live” alumni Tina Fey and Amy Poehler last made a film. That film, 2008’s “Baby Mama,” was cute, but it was also terribly safe. Their new film “Sisters,” meanwhile, is quite possibly the most profane female-driven movie ever made, an apology of sorts for “Baby Mama.” The story also allows Poehler and Fey the ability to play themselves as well as each other, like a raunch-com version of “Face/Off.” As ridiculous as that sounds, it works incredibly well.
Kate Ellis (Fey) is in a bad way. Living on a near-stranger’s couch, her own daughter Haley (Madison Davenport) doesn’t even want to spend time with her. Kate’s saintly sister Maura (Poehler) is divorced, and basically hiding from the world. Kate and Maura’s parents (James Brolin and Dianne Weist) tell Maura that they’re selling the Orlando home they grew up in, and Kate and Maura decide to throw one last party, only Maura guilts wild child Kate to be the designated sober house mommy after Maura meets cute with new neighbor James (Ike Barinholtz). When they get to the house, they discover that it’s already been sold to an insufferable young couple (though they haven’t moved in), but that only strengthens their resolve to throw the party. The party begins as a wake (literally) but turns into a rager, and as it continues into the night, new information comes to light that causes Kate and Maura to rethink both the party and each other.
It was very smart to have Fey and Poehler go against type here. Think of Fey in “Mean Girls” as the straight-laced Precalculus teacher, and then think of Poehler as the “cool mom,” who lets her pre-tween daughter watch “Girls Gone Wild.” The script here is not exactly flipped, but it is mixed up. Maura is impossibly sensible, and until now has never let loose once in her life. Kate is a hothead who always has a reason for why she’s never to blame. In a nutshell, both women made it impossible for anyone to typecast them from here on.