Sibling Rivalry

  • 1990
  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • Comedy

Perfect wife Marjorie Turner (Kirstie Alley) is neglected by her husband Harry, a doctor who's married to his career and devoted to his family (each and every relative a doctor). Marjorie also has a troubled relationship with her hellraiser sister, Jeanine (Jami Gertz). Marjorie has always been a model of decorum, but when she does cut loose, it is with...read more

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Perfect wife Marjorie Turner (Kirstie Alley) is neglected by her husband Harry, a doctor who's married to his career and devoted to his family (each and every relative a doctor). Marjorie also has a troubled relationship with her hellraiser sister, Jeanine (Jami Gertz). Marjorie has always

been a model of decorum, but when she does cut loose, it is with fatal results. Dismayed by her in-laws casual disregard and egged on by her sister, Marjorie has a brief affair with a handsome stranger (Sam Elliott), whom she meets while helping him write a note to accompany a gift basket of fruit

he's sending to a party he wishes he didn't have to attend. (He gets his wish.) Meanwhile, policeman Wilbur Meany (Ed O'Neill) is afraid that his brother Nick (Bill Pullman), a bumbling Levelor blind salesman, may do something to hurt his chances of a major promotion. His relationship with Nick is

counterpointed with Marjorie's sibling rivalry with her sister--soon these lives are going to intersect. Nick breaks into a hotel room (that's just been vacated by Marjorie) in order to hang some blinds he hopes to show to the hotel manager. What he doesn't realize is that Marjorie's extra-marital

affair has resulted in her lover's death due to a heart ailment. Having panicked and fled to a dinner party she's throwing for a brother-in-law she's never met, Marjorie abandons her bedmate's corpse. While hanging his blinds, Nick backs them into the bed and mistakenly believes he's slain the man

in bed. Once, he finds Marjorie's phone number in the purse left behind in her hasty exit, the complications grow and multiply swiftly.

In this raucous, knockabout comedy, Carl Reiner is in top form--recalling the glory days of WHERE'S POPPA. Deftly balancing the dual stories of overachieving/underachieving brothers and sisters, SIBLING RIVALRY delves into the psychology of familial relationships while remaining true to the

precepts of wacky farce. Although some of the supporting roles aren't cast felicitously (the ever-mugging Pullman, the unappealingly abrasive Fisher), the film generates enough belly laughs to coast over these over-played spots and emerge with its hilarity intact. Whether the twists and turns of

this complicated game of "what to do with the body" would work as ingeniously well without Kirstie Alley is open to question. She's the comedy's heart and soul. In the wrong hands, her character could have seemed like a whiny neurotic, but Alley's ace timing, understated delivery, and verve result

in a flawless comic creation--a goody two shoes who liberates herself from playing the constricting role that her in-laws and her own inhibitions prescribe. Her scenes with short-term lothario Sam Elliott are so charming you hate to see him killed off. As the comic misconceptions and mistaken

identities escalate, and the tangy one-liners whiz by, SIBLING RIVALRY snowballs into side-splitting escapism. Too good-natured for true black comedy, the film is offbeat, but upbeat, fun that garners laughs out of grim situations while underlining some basic truths about human frailty aggravated

by family pressures. Despite some rough patches when the heavy plotting threatens to overwhelm the proceedings, SIBLING RIVALRY is brash, madcap entertainment. The film might have worked even better if Alley's in-laws had been written and played more as eccentrics than as outright pompous villains

and if more screen time were allotted to juxtaposing the sibling relationships mentioned in the film's title. Those quibbles aside, SIBLING RIVALRY is outrageous entertainment for lovers of farce and for anyone who's ever felt that their parents favored another sibling over them. (Adultsituations, profanity.)

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  • Released: 1990
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: Perfect wife Marjorie Turner (Kirstie Alley) is neglected by her husband Harry, a doctor who's married to his career and devoted to his family (each and every relative a doctor). Marjorie also has a troubled relationship with her hellraiser sister, Jeanine… (more)

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