Adam McKay gave an interesting interview on the DGA’s podcast “The Director’s Cut” recently. Part of a panel of 5 Oscar-nominated directors, he revealed that he doesn’t really know lenses or a lot of the technical details, but sees his role more as improv coach, shouting suggestions to his actors before or during each scene. Director Jason Moore’s approach for Sisters appears to be similar. Watching the film, it’s easy to picture the joke you’re seeing on screen being the 39th of 50 takes (the blooper reel basically confirms this).
That’s not to say take 39 isn’t funny, as Sisters is full of very funny people saying and doing funny things. (Sadly, one of the bigger disappointment is John Cena, who was so great in Trainwreck, but whose name – Pazuzu – is the funniest thing his character says.) As a longtime Tina and Amy fan – sorry, I can’t bring myself to use the more conventional “Fey and Poehler” – it’s great to see their shtick again, both together and individually, as well as see so many Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, and Parks and Recreation alums.
Bobby Moynihan steals the show as a desperate-to-please jokester. While he gets three of the best physical gags in the film (a deranged Scarface impression, a “steamroller” attack on Cena, and a terrifying impression of a startled cat/possum), the highlight for me – someone whose frequency of jokes also far exceeds the laughs they generate – is his cathartic “thanks for finally laughing, fuckers” after one of his jokes finally lands.
And that’s kind of how Sisters feels – that everyone is working really hard to make you laugh. When they do, it’s hilarious; when they don’t (Cena’s “I’m putting this on crazybitchpoolfights.com!”), it’s painful. Combined with the stitched-together feel of the editing, the obligatory story of personal growth, and an overlong running time (118 minutes!), Sisters could’ve been a real drag. Without Tina, Amy, and Moynihan, it would’ve been.