Best Friends Forever: Fey & Poehler's Baby Mama and Sisters
Together on SNL for five years, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey always seemed like a natural pair. Two people whose comedy stylings didn't necessarily match, but complimented. Their undeniable chemistry makes watching them together always a blast and they are still my favorite Weekend Update hosting duo. In the years since the two have returned to host SNL both together and apart, and they've even hosted the Golden Globes together three times. That's why it's such a surprise that the two's movie career together has been so inconsistent. Their partnership has lasted for over fifteen years, yet we've only seen two films with varying degrees of success.
Shortly after their tenure at SNL, Tina and Amy made Baby Mama, an earnest if not entirely successful comedy. Fey plays Kate, a single businesswoman who decides she wants a baby. The chances of her being able to conceive herself are slim due to near infertility, so she enlists the aid of Angie (Poehler), an unpleasant and rude homeless woman, to stay with her and be her surrogate. The in-vitro process doesn't take and, instead of telling Kate, Angie pretends to be pregnant in an effort to collect her check and dash.
Seven years later, the duo reunited for the raunchy comedy Sisters. That movie sees the two starring as, well, sisters. This time around their roles are reversed, with Amy being the straight-laced Maura and Fey the partier, Kate (again). The sisters are back in their childhood home after their parents tell them they are going to be selling. To send it off and to get out a little last childhood rebellion, the two throw a massive house party for all their high school friends that quickly gets out of control.
The two films could not be more different. Baby Mama plays like your typical studio comedy. The humor's safe and all the regular beats you'd expect are represented. Tina and Amy even take a backseat to the more colorful side characters like Dax Shepard as Angie's dimwit husband and Steve Martin as Kate's eccentric hippy boss. Sisters, on the other hand, is a wild ride that consistently and hilariously escalates until it climaxes with a jaw dropping special effect of an underground pool collapsing into the earth. The studio beats are still there, but they are merely a framework rather than the entire driving force. The great supporting cast takes center stage at times, John Cena's insane drug dealer and Maya Rudolph as a high school bully being the standouts, but they exist to serve the protagonists rather than steal the movie away from them.
Amy and Tina's chemistry translates very well to the big screen. I do not think Baby Mama is a great or even good movie, but I've seen it countless times because these two are just so entertaining to watch, even when laid back. Sisters is a large step forward and one of my favorite comedies of the last few years, largely because the two seem like they were allowed to let loose and have more fun. Through both movies, we've seen Tina and Amy both play the straight man and the comic, and they are equally good at both. Fey's been playing Liz Lemon for so long that it was exciting to see her break out. Likewise, Poehler's been playing a Leslie Knope-ish goofball that seeing her step back and go against the grain a bit is refreshing.
Baby Mama and Sisters were both box office successes, so it's more than a little puzzling that there hasn't been word of a sequel to Sisters or at least another big screen collaboration. Fey is busy writing Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Poehler recently starred in the Netflix show Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later and in the big budget comedy The House. The tides are turning, female led Girls Trip is headed towards 100 million domestic while similar male lead comedies have been underperforming more and more regularly. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have been working together for more than a decade, and it'd be a shame if we have to wait seven more years to see a return to the big screen.