Movie Review: The Skeleton Twins


“Hey Kristen…do you think the seat between us is symbolism for the distance in our relationship.” “Sure Bill.” Image via IFC

For a film starring a guy known for his Alan Alda impression and a girl known for her awkward stammering, The Skeleton Twins sure is sad. In fact, the biggest laugh you will get out of The Skeleton Twins is from a joke about a famous dead dog.

The Skeleton Twins checks off a myraid of indie movie cliches, from white people being sad underwater, to white people being sad while sticking their head out of a car window. A good alternate title for this film would be Little Miss Zoloft.

Bill Hader plays Milo, a struggling actor who hits rock bottom and attempts suicide. His twin sister Maggie (Kristen Wiig) is about to commit suicide, before she is informed about her brother. *cue Alec Baldwin voiceover* The siblings hadn’t spoken in 10 years. So Maggie takes Milo in to her quaint little home in Upstate New York, and the pair spends the next 90 minutes working out their problems. It’s like watching a therapy session for the small price of $15 (okay, so that’s not a lot in New York standards).

Like any good film, The Skeleton Twins is an example of empathy. Here are two characters that have done some terrible things, and yet it always seems possible that they can move on beyond their mistakes.

Writing and acting is something of a symbiotic relationship: one can’t be good without the other. While The Skeleton Twins has some quality dialogue and some killer dark humor, the performances elevate it to another level. Hader maintains some of the silliness that has made him such a comedy star. Then his amazing and unexpected monologue about peaking in high school becomes the film’s thesis statement. Meanwhile, Wiig does a great Margot Tenenbaum impression as a woman who maybe settled just a bit too much. Speaking of the Tenenbaums, Luke Wilson makes a great comeback to the big screen as Maggie’s unassuming and sincere husband. He’s the kind of guy who would wear a “Pain is Temporary, Pride Lasts Forever” t-shirt, and he is an unfortunate bystander during the twins’ reign of terror. Hopefully, this means Luke Wilson won’t have to act in any more AT&T commercials.

Typically, overly dramatic films can be painful to watch, as if the director is taking joy in making the audience sad. However, The Skeleton Twins feels like the right kind of sadness. It is the kind of story that believes there is a way out, and that even the tiniest gesture, like fixing a fish tank, can amend a relationship. This is not a film about characters who only know pain. It is about characters with a bright past, and a bleak present. However, that doesn’t mean that there best days are behind them.

Brain Farts From The Edge

  • Okay, maybe I made this sound a tad too grim. Just know that there’s a scene where Milo and Maggie get high in a dentist’s office.
  • I think I might have groaned like, twice during the film’s running time. Not bad.
  • This isn’t exactly Luke Wilson’s big comeback. For that, you should watch every single episode of Enlightened right now.
  • The Skeleton Twins was produced by Jay and Mark Duplass. Right now, the Duplass seal of approval is the indie world’s equivalent of the Colbert Bump.
  • Good job, guy who won an Emmy for Modern Family this year for no reason.
  • The film’s portrayal of suicide and depression was making me think of Robin Williams again. We still miss you, Robin.
  • Having just graduated from Syracuse, the film, which is set somewhere in the Hudson Valley, made me miss that part of the state of New York that isn’t Manhattan.
  • As I wrote recently, dysfunctional families are just more fun than normal families.