If you’re willing to spend good money watching a filmed improv class, by all means see Lynn Shelton’s overrated “Your Sister’s Sister.” Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself nodding off mid-movie, bored silly by a trio of good actors (Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mark Duplass) stuck in a dull scenario about a young man caught in a highly implausible kerfuffle involving two sisters and a leaky condom.
You know you’re in trouble when the used prophylactic is the most interesting character. If only the humans were equally elastic, instead of stiff, mannered and struggling to ad-lib dialogue while following a paper-thin story outline conceived by Shelton. A mumblecore darling whose “talent” completely escapes me, Shelton (“Humpday”) encounters mounting problems right from the start, when she introduces us to a gathering of friends and family assembled in Seattle to mark the first anniversary of a young man’s untimely death. His name was Tom, and, depending on whom you believe (we get competing eulogies), he was either a saint or a jovial sinner. But the story’s not about him, it’s about Tom’s brother Jack (Duplass), a bitter, grief-stricken slacker not at all onboard with the mass canonization of his sibling. After he acrimoniously makes his feelings known to the throng, his brother’s ex-girlfriend Iris (Blunt) suggests that Jack get his head straight by spending a couple days alone at her family’s cabin in the San Juan Islands.
Upon his arrival at the cottage, Jack discovers that he’s not alone. Iris’ half-sister Hannah (DeWitt) has also taken refuge there after breaking up with her girlfriend of seven years. Faster than you can say contrivance, the two improbably hop into bed and do the horizontal mambo. And who should show up mere hours later? Why, Iris, of course. Turns out she’s got a crush on Jack and intends to turn her “surprise visit” into a means to hook up with the shaggy-chic hunk.
What ensues is the worst possible homage to farce, as Jack and Hannah try to keep Iris from finding out about their “short” night of less-than-sweaty sex, and Iris tries to summon the courage to come clean with her feelings for Jack. Some might find the complicated situation funny, if not interesting, but I found it nothing but forced and clichéd. It’s almost as lazy as our trio of actors’ attempts to invent quippy dialogue smothered in glib irony. Best of all, Hannah has convinced herself Jack impregnated her, even though it’s only been mere hours since they did the deed.
Page 2 of 2 - Let the eye rolling begin. And it doesn’t stop until “Your Sister’s Sister” reaches a neat-and-tidy conclusion that has absolutely no connection to anything resembling reality. At least the three actors are immensely appealing, even though their improv skills are considerably lacking. And they keep you glued up to a certain point, but there’s only so much your patience can tolerate before you begin resenting Shelton for wasting your time on a story more suitable to an acting workshop than a feature film.
YOUR SISTER’S SISTER (R for language and some sexual content.) Cast includes Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass and Rosemarie DeWitt. Written and directed by Lynn Shelton. 2 stars out of 4.