Amy Poehler and Tina Fey first came together in Baby Mama (2008), a funny, intelligent movie about the difficult life choices that women are corralled into making when motherhood and career are in conflict.
Their comic skills complemented each other beautifully, to the extent that in this their roles are seamlessly interchanged; Angie (Poehler) is the staid, daggy one, whereas her sister Kate (Fey) is an out-there gal with a long history of lascivious deeds.
For Angie, who has never had things go her way, and Kate, bringing up a teenage, resentful daughter on her own, there has always been the fall-back of home and hearth in Orlando (Fla).
When their parents (James Brolin and Dianne Wiest) decide to sell the property, Angie and Kate are outraged – to them it symbolises the loss of their youth.
Suddenly – and uncomfortably – aware of entering their forties, the girls decide to throw one last party in the house before the deal is sealed with a pair of trendoids from New York.
It is the party that is the centrepiece of the film and, as you’d expect, as many gags fly as hit the ground with a thud.
One of the things that you can’t help respecting about it, however, is the straightforward acknowledgement that grown-ups from all walks of life take drugs.
Director Jason Moore (whose ebullient style was evident in 2012’s Pitch Perfect) does not encourage substance abuse, but neither does he pretend that, contrary to the two-faced deniers in the domain of media commentary, it is not an everyday thing.
Inevitably, the humour gets broader as the party goes off the rails – Angie’s squeeze, James, falls off a bed and has a ballerina music box inserted up his bum. If the idea of Angie pulling it out as Beethoven tinkles away appeals – I laughed like a billygoat – then this is for you.
It’s hardly subtle, but it’s not a total gross-out either, and the ending is as twee as you always knew it would be.
– John Campbell