This review was originally published as part of our Sundance Film Festival 2014 coverage. It is being re-posted to coincide with the film’s limited theatrical release.
The Skeleton Twins
Director: Craig Johnson
Release Date: January 18, 2014 (Sundance); September 12, 2014 (limited)
No matter how close we may be with another person, the likelihood of drifting apart is much higher than simply maintaining the relationship. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but various factors weigh in that can either extend or deter a friendship. What’s worse is when family members inevitably drift apart. Craig Johnson’s The Skeleton Twins tells the story of two twins who reunite after a 10 year-long estrangement – of course, their reunion brings with it both love and heartache as the duo rediscover and rekindle the bond between them.
Following a failed suicide attempt, Milo (Bill Hader) moves from LA to New York to live with his twin sister, Maggie (Kristen Wiig) and her husband, (Luke Wilson). While the reunion is tepid at best, the twins slowly begin to warm up to one another much in the same way their relationship had been as young children. However, as their love for one another grows stronger, so too do the dark secrets they each hide, ultimately coming to a head and changing their respective lives forever.
Given the fact that the leads are SNL alumni (with a supporting cast of Wilson and Modern Family‘s Ty Burrell), it’s easy to assume that The Skeleton Twins will be indicative of the work both Hader and Wiig are most known for. However, while the film has its fair share of genuine laughs, it’s a dark film with large skeletons in the closet (no pun intended) finding their way out. The laughs won’t overshadow the melodrama, which should be kept in consideration when watching the film. The drama is compelling, twisted, and is honestly more memorable than the jokes.
In saying that, it was great to see Wiig and Hader not only embrace their comedy, but also showcase their range. The Skeleton Twins can get heavy, but it’s never pandering or too imposing to the audience. Can it be melodramatic? At times, sure, but Wiig and Hader handle it deftly. The Skeleton Twins may not necessarily represent the actors’ abandonment of comedy for drama, but it certainly shows they’re more than capable of handling more trying roles.