7/10
A Worthy Showcase of Hader and Wiig's Dramatic Chops
2 May 2015
Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader are such comedy wunderkinds that a dramatic role sounds like a waste. We can picture Wiig screwing around a room with the pizazz of Carol Burnett, with Hader, alongside her, spitting out wicked lines in a wacky voice. Though The Skeleton Twins has a handful of funny moments, it is first and foremost a gloomy drama; we may all love Wiig and Hader's antics on Saturday Night Live, but they are blessed with some serious acting talent. It's the Double Indemnity to their Ball of Fire, the War and Peace to their Sabrina.

Twins Maggie (Wiig) and Milo (Hader) have been estranged for 10 years. They're reacquainted, however, when Maggie receives a call from an unknown number; she is informed that Milo has attempted suicide. In one hand, she holds the phone. In the other is a smattering of pills. It's a coincidence that seems as though God set it up just for them. Maggie immediately invites Milo to stay with her and her picture perfect husband, Lance (Luke Wilson), in their suburban New York home; but just as they begin to reconnect, they are forced to face their innermost demons.

Milo has been living in Los Angeles for a decade, desperate to become a famous actor. He's seen little success, his life marred with constant disappointment. Maggie knows that she has married a good man, but she is bored with her comfortable, predictable marriage; she's partaken in several affairs and has purposely destroyed any chances of having a baby, something Lance dreams of.

The people in The Skeleton Twins aren't unstable in a melodramatic fashion. They are disappointed with their lives, ready to do something drastic just to inject meaning into their veins. Milo thought he'd be the bullied outsider that could, one day, come to a class reunion and laugh at his balding, middling tormentors. Maggie thought that she could live in domestic bliss and stay within that bliss. But it doesn't happen.

The film explores several relationships, going back and forth between Milo and Maggie, Milo and his ex-lover, Rich (Ty Burrell), who destroyed his teenage years, and the siblings and their flighty mother (Joanna Gleason). The conversations glide over and under sheer wit and blood- letting, the characters are written with hundreds of layers. They hit close to home, making us question our own self-confidence and achievements.

But it's one of those films in which the biggest successes come from the actors. If they didn't have chemistry, The Skeleton Twins would never work. Yet the emotional bonds (good or bad) between the actors in the film are so instantaneously genuine that there is a fluidity that makes the anguish all the more real. The laughs are quick, but they are consistently overtaken by the somber sequences that follow them. Because, in real life, a joke can be thrown off a roof if you open up an old wound.

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