Sisters (15)

Three stars

Dir: Jason Moore

With: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, John Leguizamo

Runtime: 118 minutes

IT takes a certain courage to bring out a picture in Star Wars week. Like a flea squaring up to Chewbacca, it is probably not advisable (although I would like to think Chewy would take the Buddhist approach and steer the insect towards peace).

But then again, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler might as well have started calling themselves the Moxie Sisters so adept did they become at skewering celebrity egos as hosts of the Golden Globes (Sample: “Jennifer Aniston is here tonight, nominated for the film Cake. We should explain for the Hollywood people in the room: Cake is like a fluffy desert that people eat on their birthdays ... And birthdays are thing people celebrate when they admit that they’ve aged”.)

Now that the Golden Globes gig is over, the television stars have moved on to bigger screen things such as this likeable if flawed comedy.

Fey (30 Rock) and Poehler (Parks and Recreation) play Kate and Maura Ellis, who find their parents are about to commit the worst sin a mum and dad can perpetrate - they want their lives back. The family home is to be sold, so Kate the beautician and Maura the nurse must return to Florida to clear out their old bedrooms. Being fortysomethings going on 14-year-olds, the sisters are distressed. Maura still hasn’t recovered from her divorce, and Kate is a permanent domestic disaster zone. They express their grief through, what else, throwing a party.

Sisters is directed by Jason Moore, who helmed the delightfully sharp Pitch Perfect, and the screenplay is by Paula Pell, Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock stalwart. This pair, together with the naturally funny and watchable Fey and Poehler, ensure that Sisters has a lot of slick, amusing lines and set-ups. It is often pure, watch through the fingers stuff that will hopefully have the middle aged laughing more than sobbing, and give their aged parents a lot to smile about as well.

As ever with modern American comedies, there is a problem. All such films, especially the ones made by Judd Apatow, should employ an “enough” person. It should be this bod’s sole job to shout “enough” whenever a scene, usually heavily improvised, goes over its natural running time and becomes face-achingly unfunny. Doubtless everyone on set is yukking away, but out there in the cheap seats the audience just wants to move on.

There are several “enough” moments in Sisters, but not so many as to spoil your enjoyment too much. Fey, the more experienced screen actor, plays delightfully against type as the wild woman sister, with Poehler her usual blend of winning and withering as the goody-two-shoes Maura. Also a joy are James Brolin and Dianne Wiest, playing the parents.

The floor belongs to Fey and Poehler though, the female comedians striking back against the Star Wars empire. Good luck to them.