A pair of SNL alums team up for this great dramedy that took me by surprise. The Skeleton Twins stars Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader as siblings who reunite after 10 years after they both attempt suicide. Twins is an above-average, late summer sleeper, but it never has the confidence to tread over any new ground. However that shouldn’t stop you from seeing this affecting and beautiful drama.
We all know by now that Kristen Wiig can act. With her great roles in films like Bridesmaids and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Wiig has proven that she can balance both comedy and drama on a delicate scale. She knocks it out of the park once more in The Skeleton Twins. Her performance as sullen sister Maggie is excellent; she’s vulnerable, caught in a marriage that never lets her feel complete, as she sleeps around and contemplates motherhood.
But The Skeleton Twins’s real star is Hader. We know he has comedic chops from his SNL days (Stefon, anyone?), and those are certainly on full display in Twins, but he hasn’t really been known as a drama actor. That should change, though, as Hader gives his best performance as Milo, the gay brother whose past keeps catching up to him. He steals the show in a performance that I think warrants significant awards attention. His performance sneaks up on you and becomes one of the film’s greatest pleasures. Wiig and Hader are rounded out by a solid supporting cast that includes Ty Burrell as an old acquaintance of Milo’s, and Luke Wilson, who plays Maggie’s overbearing but lovable husband.
The Skeleton Twins would be nothing without a good script, and for the most part, writer Mark Heyman and director Craig Johnson deliver. The dramatic scenes are never overshadowed by the comedic tone, and the writing on the whole is on point. A visit from the siblings’ mother feels a bit out of place amid the self-reflection of the two characters, but besides that the film throws enough twists and turns to keep you indulged. The best scene belongs to Milo and Maggie’s perfect lip-sync to Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” which one can’t resist smiling during.
Unfortunately, Twins never feels confident enough to throw you for a loop. The estranged family dramedy genre has seen film after film in which the screenplay is never challenged by letting it go into unknown territory. Twins follows a similar format to almost every film in this sub-category, from Rachel Getting Married to August: Osage County, and while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it would’ve been nice to subvert the conventions that this genre possesses. Still, Twins is an uplifting and enjoyable film that is definitely one of the year’s best; it’s worth seeing for Hader and Wiig alone.