The Skeleton Twins (2014)

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Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader star as Maggie and Milo, siblings who haven’t seen one another in ten years. That changes when Milo lands in hospital after a failed suicide attempt. Maggie convinces him to join her, spend some time figuring out his life and clearing his headspace. He can also meet her sweet husband, Lance (Luke Wilson). Milo may be a mess, but he soon finds out that his sister isn’t keeping it together as well as she likes to pretend she is. Sadly, the two of them get on really well together when they’re not lashing out at each other.

Directed by Craig Johnson, who also co-wrote the script with Mark Heyman, The Skeleton Twins is yet another movie that you’ve seen many, many times before. The script has some good lines here and there, and there are some truly wonderful moments (with one new favourite featuring a song by Starship), but I have to say that it’s the cast, and the performances from everyone involved, lifting this up from good to great.

I’ve liked Hader and Wiig for years, and not just for their comedy work. Both have shown, or shown signs, that they could do just as well in dramatic fare as they could in comedies. Anyone doubting their abilities will be silenced by their performances here. Yes, some of the more amusing moments allow them to dip back into their comfort zones, but that’s no major crime, especially when both performers do consistently great throughout the movie. Wilson gets his best role in quite a few years, and he’s delightful as the sweet and earnest Lance. Ty Burrell and Boyd Holbrook are both very good, playing characters who help to unsettle Milo and Maggie in different, yet also very similiar, ways.

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There’s no special stylistic tics or tricks used here. The material is, while overly familiar, strong enough to allow the movie to simply move from beginning to end without needing any extra decoration. Any major developments/revelations aren’t displayed with an attempt to shock or surprise. They’re character-defining, which makes them interesting and satisfying enough anyway, without the need to play them for any mild kind of shock value.

I guess The Skeleton Twins is just as easy to dismiss as it is to enjoy. Siblings dealing with problems, one of the main characters being a sharp-tongued gay male, a straightforward structure that doesn’t differentiate from any other film of this ilk. Those things, however, didn’t matter to me. I really enjoyed myself, and I hope others find it equally worthwhile.

DIRECTOR: CRAIG JOHNSON
WRITER: CRAIG JOHNSON, MARK HEYMAN
STARS: BILL HADER, KRISTEN WIIG, LUKE WILSON, TY BURRELL, BOYD HOLBROOK
RUNTIME: 88 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: USA

Film Rating: ★★★★☆

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