In her first solo-starring vehicle, Kirstie Alley – who plays the creatively stifled wife of a stuffy young doctor (Scott Bakula) – comes into her own with a flamboyant, highly physical performance.
Her adulterous hop in the sack with mystery hunk Sam Elliott results in his death by heart attack after strenuous lovemaking. What follows involves three sets of siblings: Alley and her slightly ditzy younger sister and rival (Jami Gertz); weird vertical blinds salesman Bill Pullman as the black sheep younger brother of upwardly mobile cop Ed O’Neil; and the massive clan of doctors comprising Bakula, his sister (Carrie Fisher) and brother (Elliott).
The surprise that Elliott turns out to be Alley’s brother-in-law is effectively developed and launches several hilarious setpieces. Pullman and Alley are united in crime after Pullman thinks he accidentally killed Elliott with his vertical blinds equipment. Both he and Alley attempt to cover up the fatality as a suicide.
Though the rushed happy ending doesn’t ring true, Sibling Rivalry creates a cheerful mood from morbid material. Carl Reiner directs swiftly and efficiently, getting maximum yocks out of borderline vulgar content.