The bar for movies starring TV genius Tina Fey is so low that really, I only needed to not actively hate Sisters to declare it a success. Mission accomplished, but not by a nearly secure enough margin. Perhaps the easiest way to point out the great gaping hole in the movie is to mention that it is about a pair of sisters throwing a party at Mom & Dad's house and hoping not to get caught - that's it, the whole plot, outside of the "who are these people" scenes at the beginning, and the "what happens to them next" scenes at the end - and to this classic, trivial slip of a scenario, Sisters dedicates all of one hundred and eighteen fucking minutes. Even granting that R-rated American comedies have gotten much too long ever since Judd Apatow came along with his love of improv and his hatred of editors, Sisters is still an outrageous grotesque.

It starts out fine, dragging in Fey and partner-in-crime Amy Poehler into its dizzy cartoon world - for you see, the sisters are grown adults, and Mom & Dad (Dianne Wiest and James Brolin) are Florida retirees planning to sell the old homestead - providing a series of warmly affectionate gross-out gags, and calling forth a truckload of comedy ringers (Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, and Samantha Bee were the ones I was happiest to see, but basically the entire party is made up of comic Somebodies. All of whom, incidentally, are bested by an immensely game John Cena in the kind of giddy "wait, you have THAT kind of comic timing?" performance that Dwayne Johnson started breaking out with a decade ago). And the party starts, and goes on - and on, and there comes a point where one starts to realise that the party isn't going to end anytime soon, and we're going to be trapped in a series of scenes that have the exact same plot beats with the exact same jokes for quite a long while.

It murders the comedy to have that little variety for that long, which is one of the two big problems with Sisters. The other is that it doesn't really do right by its leads: Lord knows this is better than
Parts of the film land perfectly; there's too much onscreen talent for that not to be the case. Hell, Poehler, Ian Barinholtz (in the unenviable role of "unfunny cute guy") and director Jason Moore even manage to put over a "tchotchke up the butthole" scene that has no business being funny in the tiniest degree, thanks mostly to letting moments play out in dismal silence and to Poehler's steely line deliveries. Sisters is absolutely not a great comedy, and in many places, it's surprisingly barely even a functional comedy. But worse comedies there have been, and worse there will yet be - probably, sadly, involving many of these same people.