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THE SKELETON TWINS (review)

skeleton_twinsTHE SKELETON TWINS
Written by Craig Johnson and Mark Heyman
Directed by Craig Johnson
Starring Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Luke Wilson and Ty Burrell
 

Maggie: Dad always told us to stick together, no matter what.

If you told me five years ago that Saturday Night Live alums, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, would be capable of turning out two incredibly rich and heartbreaking performances in a seriously funny film, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. The two actors are widely known for being able to make us laugh, but who knew they could make us cry just as easily?

In THE SKELETON TWINS, the pair play troubled siblings, Maggie and Milo, who have not seen each other for ten years. After his botched suicide interrupts her attempt, the two are brought back together for an unconventional family reunion of sorts. After moving in with Maggie and her husband, Lance (Luke Wilson), Milo quickly sees how her life is not as perfect as it seems. Like her brother, Maggie is struggling to cope with her life. She cheats on her husband and takes birth-control pills, even though Lance wants to conceive. While they were separated by distance, Maggie and Milo were going through the same motions, each dealing with their depression in congruently destructive ways. Now finally reunited, the siblings must learn how to help each other, while at the same time realizing that they are not as alone as they thought.

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THE SKELETON TWINS is carried by the strength of its stars. On screen, there isn’t necessarily a lot happening all the time so the cast has to hold your interest solely with their performances. What gives the film a strong edge over similar films of the sort is that it’s always a drama before it is a comedy; it is a film that knows its priorities. While often cliched and predictable in terms of plot development, Craig Johnson and Mark Heyman’s screenplay is still consistently sharp, witty and can turn from being hilarious to heartbreaking on a dime. The cast maintains that delicate balance brilliantly.

While the film has many standout scenes, it feels as if they’re all leading up to what is the film’s most memorable moment: when Maggie and Milo lip-sync to Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”. The two actors are so genuine in their painful performances, that this emotional release provides the foundation for what is definitely the strongest exchange in the film. THE SKELETON TWINS builds up to this moment (the release, not the Starship), and unfortunately everything that follows it never feels quite as satisfying.

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Wiig showed us that she had dramatic chops in this year’s WELCOME TO ME, so the greater surprise obviously comes from Hader. His brutally honest performance gives heart to what could otherwise be a forgettable film. Whilst the dialogue is smart and unexpected, viewers will always have a sense of where the film is going, right up until its obvious conclusion. Hader and Wiig may just be too good to pass up though.

3.5 sheep

 

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