Friday, September 12, 2014

The Skeleton Twins Movie Review

Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig (r) star in The Skeleton Twins

Back from the Dead

It's not easy making light of suicide; but leave it to Saturday Night Live alum Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader to make it entertaining. Director Craig Johnson has his hands full with The Skeleton Twins, a comedy-drama that features not one, but two attempted suicides in its first five minutes... but Johnson proves up to task, creating a smart, touching and ultimately funny film that belies its heavy subject matter.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: When estranged twins Maggie (Kristen Wiig) and Milo (Bill Hader) feel they're at the end of their ropes, an unexpected reunion forces them to confront why their lives went so wrong. As the twins reconnect, they realize the key to fixing their lives may just lie in repairing their relationship.

What’s Best: Wiig and Hader are nothing short of spectacular as estranged twins, who wonder out loud, "What the Hell happened to us?" Unfortunately for them, plenty; but their trials set the stage for what amounts to be the ultimate non-pity party. Whether it's "dude's day," or "dyke night," Maggie & Milo turn disaster into opportunity with low-key precision and gobs of charm. I can't wait to see them together again on screen: Can you say Hepburn and Tracy?

Avy Kaufman's brilliant casting doesn't stop with Wiig and Hader. Luke Wilson is terrific as Lance, Maggie's well-intentioned husband who likes to eat waffles and syrup without a fork & knife. Also impressive... Modern Family's Ty Burrell as an old "friend" of Milo, and Boyd Holbrook as Maggie's dreamy scuba instructor.

What’s Not: Did I mention two suicide attempts to start the film? Sure it's done with a wink and a smile; but suicide is suicide. After breezing along for about an hour, The Skeleton Twins stumbles a bit with a surprise confession, and some Halloween dress-up with a side of heavy drama. It's not enough to make a negligible difference; but it's worth mentioning.

Best Line: Johnson not only directs well, but he writes a mean script too (along with Mark Heyman.) You have to love Milo's, 'I can't wait to be the creepy, gay uncle,' or his dead-on description of Maggie as a 'restless housewife with whore-like tendencies.'

Overall: Maggie ponders early on, 'Maybe we were doomed from the beginning,' but thankfully, Wiig and her fellow castmates prove otherwise. Johnson's film could easily fall between the cracks, but he tackles countless obstacles with a deft hand, allowing his actors to shine with what appears to be minimal effort. Give The Skeleton Twins an A for authenticity, and a strong B overall.