The Skeleton Twins is a film about depression, love, struggles and most importantly family. Like a shot in the gut, this film will hit you hard. Don’t get me wrong, at times this film is hilarious, but at other times it will leave you a hot wet mess cleaning up the tissues. Wiig and Hader show their comedic tour de force throughout this film and finally excel pass the early years of SNL sketches. Meet Milo Dean (Hader), a gay washed up L.A. actor and Maggie Dean, an unhappy married New York dental hygienist.
Milo and Maggie haven’t talked in a decade and what brings them back together is, oddly enough, suicide. Milo tries to attempt suicide by slitting his wrist in a bathtub. At the same time, Maggie is thinking about swallowing pills when she gets the call about Milo. Maggie flies cross-country to California to see her brother. She tells him that he needs to come stay with her in New York for a while and he reluctantly agrees. What makes this film so intriguing is Wiig and Hader’s star struck chemistry. They improv off each other so effectively that it helps bring the lighter notes of the film up to surface and pass its darker undertone:
Milo: “Have you read Marley and Me?”
Maggie: “Yeah. It’s sad.”
Milo: “Why is it sad?”
Maggie: “You don’t know what happens?”
Milo: No, that’s why I’m reading it. What?”
Milo: “Does the dog die at the end?”
Maggie: “No. I didn’t say that.”
Milo: [sighs] “Maggie, I know the dog dies. Everyone knows the dog dies. It’s the book where the dog dies.”
Maggie: “I see you’re getting your sense of humor back.”
Milo: “Yeah, they can’t take that away from me.”
It’s moments like this in the film where we see Wiig and Hader’s relationship truly blossom. Milo goes back with Maggie where he meets her puppy lovin’ husband, Lance (Luke Wilson, nicely fitting role). Lance means well and really does care for Maggie. Unfortunately, he comes off a little bit obnoxious at times. Lance really wants to become a father, but Maggie doesn’t want a child right now. Sadly, she still hasn’t worked up the nerve to tell him and is still sneaking birth control behind his back. The script (directed by Craig Johnson and co-written by Mark Heyman) really compact the film when we find out that Maggie is also sleeping with her scuba instructor (Boyd Holbrook).
We also learn that Milo is secretly stalking his old English teacher, Rich (Ty Burrell, Emmy winner for Modern Family), who seduced him back in high school. Rich now has a wife and son, but this scandalous affair has caused a wedge between Milo and Maggie’s relationship. And Rich thinks that having sex with Milo again will get him a chance at selling his script to Hollywood. With all the family issues, sleeping around and craziness here, there’s enough drama to fill up daytime television. But Wiig and Hader never leave us astray. They’re potent and perfectly matched for this film.
Some of the best scenes in this film are when the twins are inhaling nitrous oxide in Maggie’s office or when Milo talks Maggie into lip-syncing a duet to Starship’s “Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now.” It’s a glorious scene between the two. They’ll make you laugh and they’ll make you cry. That’s why The Skeleton Twins is one of my favorite films of the year. Definitely, earned a spot in the top ten. Wiig and Hader are always funny, but what makes this film so powerful is when they strip all that away and show us how badly they’re really hurting. They are just like everyone else struggling in this world … human.
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