When one of the main characters, played by an iconic comic actor in the recent history of Saturday Night Live, attempts suicide at the beginning of the film, you know you’re in for the long haul.
Craig Johnson’s “The Skeleton Twins” follows the siblings Maggie and Milo, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader respectively, as they work to reconcile a 10-year long impasse following Milo’s attempted suicide and his subsequent move-in to Maggie’s home. Their reunion, of course, is hampered by negative feelings toward their parents, deep-seated problems with their romantic lives and, more frequently, their constant battle with bouts of depression and thoughts of suicide. There’s a reason why the two are nicknamed the “gruesome twosome” from the get-go.
And yet, the somewhat dark subject matter is not entirely downtrodden. Wiig and Hader’s roots in SNL allow them to bring an undeniable chemistry and uplifting element to their characters, filling the spots between momentary lapses of guilt and self-hate with genuine and sincere joy.
Arguably one of the film’s most memorable and enjoyable scenes is when Hader seduces Wiig into joining him in a lip synch of Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.” The scene oozes with their on and off screen relationship and you cannot help but join in silently as you sit there and witness these two individuals connect on a level you only wish you could with someone else.
The two of them deliver a constant barrage of heartbreaking and heartwarming dialogue, but the mix does not leave you confused about how to feel. Instead, by the end of the movie, I felt refreshed and hopeful that the characters would live through their problems and support one another through the rough times and the not so rough. Which is saying a lot, again, considering the material it handles.
As mentioned earlier, suicide and depression seem to be a constant staple in this movie, so if you are triggered or bothered by either of those things, I would recommend avoiding this film for your own benefit.
Otherwise, the only real problem this movie has is that it seems to lack a concrete plot as the characters sort of just meander about the town they inhabit, but even then it doesn’t seem to be a huge problem for the movie.
Instead, Wiig, Hader and the small supporting cast are able to create a film that feels natural in its direction, focusing more on their interactions as impetus to move the film forward. In this respect, the movie does not stay obsessed with the past and never has to sit the audience down and explicitly tell them what led up to the schism between the siblings, unlike many big budget Hollywood films. In its place, we get throwaway lines that tell us all we need to know about the past, without derailing us too much from the present.
Overall, with both, a smart cast and script in hand, Johnson is able to direct a film which highlights its headlining stars’ acting chops while still giving us a movie that is fully grounded in reality. And despite the depressing focus of the movie, it has you leaving the theaters humming and thinking, that “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.”
RECOMMENDED: Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig’s versatile performances work well in balancing otherwise dark material.