Film Review of the Week: The Skeleton Twins

The Skeleton Twins stars Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as estranged siblings who both attempt (or prepare to attempt) suicide on the same day and are thereby re-united to rekindle their relationship amid the mess their lives have become. It opens on Friday at the Cedar Lee Theatre, Cinemark Valley View and Regal Crocker Park

Let's not even debate the fact that Wiig and Hader represent the very topmost tier of their respective gender's comedic crop. But here, in a film which has comedic elements but certainly wouldn't be classified as a comedy, the duo flexes its acting muscles as deeper, darker, more profoundly troubled characters.

Wiig is Maggie Dean, a disgruntled dental hygienist who pretends, for the sake of her all-American husband Lance (Luke Wilson), that she'd like to have a baby. Privately, she hides her birth control among her bathroom's floral soaps and takes scuba classes with a hunky Aussie instructor.

Hader is the perennially depressed, gay, aspirant Hollywood actor Milo. (He's no less convincing than his SNL Weekend Update standby Stefon). He's taking some time off from L.A. after his bungled wrist-slitting and now purports to be on the prowl for available men. Secretly, he longs only for the affection of his former high-school English teacher (Ty Burrell) by whom he was victimized as a minor.

That all sounds almost soap-operatically melodramatic, and it doesn't stop there — their father committed suicide years ago; their absentee mother (Joanna Gleason) attended an "insight retreat" instead of Maggie's wedding — and the movie's undercurrents do tend toward the heavy. But as siblings, Hader and Wiig are sublime in their scenes together. They carry the film and locate its deep-autumn, deep-soul magic. With any luck, this performance will vault Hader into recognition beyond his established virtuosity as a voice talent.

Be on the lookout for a lip-syncing scene to Starship's "Nothing Gonna Stop Us Now." It was featured in the film's trailer and should be an instant classic in the annals of indie-dramedy show-stoppers.

About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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