It’s all about family in our review round-up this week, with a couple of sisters taking home the gold and a father-son pairing coming in last. Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt play the winning titular siblings in Lynn Shelton’s mumblecore-lite comedy Your Sister’s Sister, while Adam Sandler passes on the torch of low expectations to fellow SNL alum Andy Samberg in That’s My Boy. It might be Father’s Day this Sunday, but Sandler is certainly one dad we want nothing to do with.
Winner: Your Sister’s Sister
Not very much happens in director Lynn Shelton’s Your Sister’s Sister, but that’s not the point. The family comedy—starring Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt as sisters and Mark Duplass as the man who comes between them in a remote cabin off the Pacific coast of Washington—is, as Time has it, an “actor’s showcase.” The Wall Street Journal calls the movie a “lovely tale of swirling feelings,” while the New York Times calls the three main characters “remarkably charming and pleasant company,” as well as “engagingly familiar but not too idiosyncratic.” The Washington Post wrote, “Very little is simple in Your Sister’s Sister…but the film’s pleasures are.” Even the New York Observer, which called the movie “another actionless talkathon,” admitted that “it’s a credit to the actors that it ended up winning me over in spite of myself.”
Back to those actors again. Duplass’ Jack is an unemployed millennial still mourning the death of his brother, Blunt’s Iris is his friend who offers up that vacation home as small comfort, and DeWitt’s Hannah is Iris’ vegan lesbian half-sister who, unbeknownst to anyone else, has already holed up on the island to recover from a bad break-up. It sounds complicated, but it all becomes clear because, as Entertainment Weekly said, “Duplass, DeWitt, and Blunt do some of their subtlest, most sweetly calibrated work ever, playing off one another with the kind of ease and trust that is, in itself, a demonstration of love.” IndieWire added, “Duplass’ feisty energy is matched by DeWitt’s constant smarminess, while Blunt’s shy, fragile behavior balances off the forceful personalities surrounding her.” And if, as the New York Daily News noted, the ending is “so predictable it seems like a bit of a copout,” the path there is still well worth the price of admission.
Take it from the Chicago Reader: “In some mumblecore movies the semi-improvised dialogue can be engulfed by hipster irony, but the acting here is so skilled, and the emotional terrain so rocky, that Shelton manages to break past the genre’s narrow social parameters to a moving story of grief, betrayal, and devotion.”
Loser: That’s My Boy
Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg are fellow graduates of Saturday Night Live, but their big-screen comedy careers have both been questionable at best—the former has brought us I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Just Go With It, and the execrable Jack and Jill, while the latter is responsible for Hot Rod—so it’s hard to imagine who thought any good would come from this pairing. The New York Times calls the film, with Sandler as possibly the most annoying father ever and Samberg as the abandoned, now-millionaire son he has come to collect from on his wedding weekend, “a pretty wretched movie if you want to activate your brain cells.” The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “nothing about it is funny, least of all Adam Sandler,” while the Washington Post complained that “the script sometimes seems to have been written by a 13-year-old.” Time called That’s My Boy “so disgusting it is worthy of the Farrelly brothers,” which actually probably counts as praise for the target demo. And how does the unholy pairing of Sandler and Samberg fare? The younger one seems to come out alright, but as for Sandler, the Arizona Republic put it best: “You could say that Samberg does a good job of looking embarrassed by [Sandler], but that might not be acting.” But that’s all just par for the course for the veteran comedian, and for a movie that caused the Chicago Tribune to muse, “Even with 87.5 years to go, the 21st century may never see a stupider comedy than That’s My Boy.“