Skeleton Twins written and directed by Craig Johnson (Duplass Brothers Productions, Venture Forth, Roadside Attractions, R, 93 min)
Starring Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Luke Wilson, Ty Burrell.
A Special Bond?
Rumor has it that twins share a special connection. Some even create their own language. What does that bond look like as they grow up and start their own families?
The relationship between twins functions as the central theme to Craig Johnson’s The Skeleton Twins.
A dark comedy, the film begins with Milo (Bill Hader) finishing a suicide note before reclining in a bath tub to slit his wrists. Simultaneously, his twin sister Maggie (Kristen Wiig), three time zones away, prepares to swallow a lethal dose of pills. Before she can complete the act, she receives a phone call notifying her of her brother’s admittance into the hospital after a suicide attempt.
Even though Milo and Maggie haven’t spoken in almost ten years, Maggie flies across the country to be with her brother and upon his release from the hospital, she urges him to stay with her and her husband, Lance (Luke Wilson), back home in upstate New York.
Reluctantly, Milo agrees.
Upon arrival, Milo meets his brother-in-law for the first time. Attempting to downplay any tension, Milo jokes about being the gay brother.
Ever the energetic-yet-oblivious husband, Lance announces his and Maggie’s intentions to start a family, which surprises Milo, having thought Maggie never wanted children.
On the surface, Lance and Maggie seem to have that typical, perfect, suburban relationship. But, there’s turmoil boiling underneath Maggie’s external façade.
On top of this revelation, Milo seeks out his old English teacher, and first sexual partner, Rich (Ty Burrell). Will this relationship break apart the fragile weaving together of that tight-knit bond Milo is trying to reestablish with Maggie?
If you’re sitting here thinking this synopsis sounds cliché, you’re one hundred percent correct. The Skeleton Twins is incredibly derivative. Depressed homosexual character misunderstood and underappreciated? Check. Bored housewife scared of change? Check. Dark topics with humor acting as ballast? Check. Name an indie picture in the last decade and you’ll find a theme from The Skeletons Twins better executed elsewhere.
The Skeleton Twins wants you to think deeply about the bond between twins that appears unbreakable no matter the distance or circumstance. But, even that feels a little cliché.
And yet, the film has redeemable qualities, namely, the chemistry between Hader and Wiig. Given their years of teamwork on Saturday Night Live, chemistry ought to be assumed. And yet, the pair exceeds even those expectations. They take problematic source material and breathe some life into it.
The best scenes, in fact, seem to be the ones that feel improvised where Hader and Wiig present lived-in characters with a natural sibling banter.
I’m not sure if I can recommend Skeleton Twins given its deficiencies. But, Wiig and Hader sure keep you entertained.
Verdict: 2.5 out of 5