The Skeleton Twins (2014)
Directed by Craig Johnson
After graduating from “Saturday Night Live” in 2012 and 2013, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader teamed up for “The Skeleton Twins,” forever shedding their hokey “SNL” antics and forging a career in serious family dramas…or, something like that. They aren’t completely over being hilarious, but “The Skeleton Twins” is a step toward careers that are broader in their legacy.
When an attempted suicide brings together estranged twins Maggie (Wiig) and Milo Dean (Hader) after a ten-year lapse in communication, they’ll work to repair their relationship. But both are harboring secrets that remind them why they met under such unfortunate circumstances, and why it had been so long. Maggie has since married loving handyman Lance (Luke Wilson, wonderful). Milo has been struggling to make a successful acting career. As they peel off old scabs and make room for new ones, Maggie and Milo will need to look within and without to fix themselves.
Written by director Craig Johnson and Mark Heyman (who I was surprised to see also wrote the Writers Guild-nominated screenplay for “Black Swan” in 2010), “The Skeleton Twins” is a murky blend of merry and malice. It’s dark, but not unrealistic. Hilarious, but heartbreaking. But it’s also underwhelming. I wanted – and expected – more from it. Wiig and Hader are magical together, but at the film’s heaviest moments they fail to deliver the powerful emotional punch they needed to. They were far more convincing than I would expect “SNL” alums to be, but they still aren’t De Niro and Streep. With a plot so substantial (disregarding what I’ll bring up next), these stars needed to bring more than their A-game. They owed it to the film. But, like I said, the screenplay isn’t perfect either. We hear almost nothing about the past ten years. They bring up mutual high school acquaintances and talk about their parents, but neither of them sees it fit to dive into the unknown reason they haven’t talked in a decade. My guess is they couldn’t think of a clever enough reason, so they just ignored it. Tsk, tsk.
Still, “The Skeleton Twins” is a touching family dramedy that’s beautiful in its simplicity. It’s dark, but with a lively, beating heart. “The Skeleton Twins” does it right, even when it misses its mark.