Sisters

By Ankit Verma

Mailed on December 27, 2015


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Dear Lee Haxall
Editor

Dear Lee,

“Hae-Won? Hae-Won? Hae-Won? Hae-Won? Hae-Won? Hae-Won? Hey-one?”

That’s my rendition of the hi-larious scene in _Sisters when Amy Poehler’s character, Maura, has trouble pronouncing her Korean manicurist’s name. Annoying isn’t it, Lee? Now imagine two hours of that and you’ve got the gist of Sisters.

It was so funny that I practically had to restrain myself from walking out of the theatre. Yes, I’m being sarcastic. No, I’m not kidding about almost walking out. Sisters is some grade-A b.s., and your lack of editing shoulders much of the blame.

This type of funny-then-not-funny-then-funny-again joke has to be handled carefully. If used sparingly, and at the right time, you’ve got a quality piece of comedy on your hands. Take the infamous rake scene in The Simpsons Cape Fear parody for example. The amount of times Sideshow Bob accidentally gets bashed in the face with a rake (eight, I counted) gets tiresome after the fourth or fifth go, but soon after, the reality of the scene settles in. Sideshow Bob has been dragged through a cactus patch and had hot coffee spilled on him; the last thing he needs is a recurring rake to the face. Your empathy towards the character turns to laughter and comedic history is made.

Sisters takes this concept and cranks it to 11.

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are hilarious—together and separately. Their work on SNL and their respective TV shows, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, are some of the best comedies to come out in recent years. I have huge respect for both of them, but the lowbrow humour in Sisters is just insulting. The premise of two sisters who reunite to throw one last party in their childhood home before it’s sold isn’t exactly a knee-slapper, but I like to be optimistic. Still, I wasn’t expecting that many anal-related gags.

Sisters stretches every joke to an unbearable point. Any time there’s a bit that could be milked for an extra few seconds, everyone runs with it. I suspect a lot of these jokes were the product of improv. When the cast is as tight-knit as the one in Sisters, silliness is a healthy side effect. They have a personal connection to the content. But it’s your job to dial back the foolishness when it goes too far. You should have slashed any joke that repeated itself more than twice.

If viewers make it to the end of the film, they’re treated to a blooper reel where Maura repeats Hae-Won another fifty times! Which begs the question, why did you stop where you did? Couldn’t you have shaved another minute or two off the Hae-Won scene? Or any other scene for that matter? Couldn’t you have used your years of experience in editing comedies to fix the broken try-too-hard that is Sisters?

To Sisters credit, there were at least one or two nuggets of gold. When Maura says that she’s taken up cheese-making as a hobby, I chuckled at the line’s subtle delivery. Miraculously, she didn’t try to go ahead and name every cheese she’s made. There wasn’t anything more to that line and it was just fine without the embellishment. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are funny ladies; they’re sharp and witty. They don’t need to be so obtrusive in their approach, and you shouldn’t sit idly by and let a hot mess like this happen again.

Sincerely,

Ankit

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