A hilarious romp through the minefields of family, growing up and moving on. I have been a big fan of Tina Fey since her Liz Lemon days in 30 Rock and of Amy Poehler since she was Leslie Knope in Parks & Recreation so I was beyond excited to hear they were teaming up for this film. It certainly did not disappoint.
Fey and Poehler play the Ellis sisters, two early-forty-somethings with very different outlooks on life. Kate (Fey) is the big sister who has a teenage daughter but no job or proper home due to her irresponsible life-style. In contrast Maura (Poehler) is the picture of responsibility, a nurse with a lovely home and a rescue dog called Polenta. The girls’ parents have decided to sell the family home and ask if the girls can come home to clear out their childhood bedroom. Neither sister is in favour of the move but nothing can be done and they return to their home town to help pack up their memories.
As they go through years of accumulated nostalgic junk you see them changing into wacky 80’s outfits and playing around with classic toys and keepsakes. I felt I was slightly too young to appreciate some of these references but enjoyed it when they read their old diaries out loud and revealed how their attitudes had always been the same, Maura acting as the “party mom” and looking after everything while Kate had a great time getting drunk. This leads to Kate saying it was a shame Maura never had a chance to live it up in their parents house at a rager of a party. I think you know where this is leading. With Kate as “party mom” and Maura letting loose, they hold a raucous party in their parents house as one last call back to their carefree youth. It’s a little slow in getting started, these are adults in their 40s with kids and other issues, but after a rousing speech from Kate it really kicks off.
I loved the characters of Kate and Maura and their chemistry, it really seems like they could be sisters. There’s some great slap-stick, nearly gross-out humour in parts and so many zingy one-liners and drawn out cringy moments that I was slightly embarrassed at how loudly I was laughing at the preview screening. I wasn’t alone though! It’s wonderful to see a comedy with two such funny women at the helm and to anyone who says that women aren’t funny, I challenge them to watch this film without laughing. There’s also a strong supporting cast of comic actors with Maya Rudolph, Ike Barinholtz, John Cena and Rachel Dratch being particular stand-outs. It’s also unusual that middle-aged women get a chance to shine like this and they definitely made the most of the opportunity.