release date: 26 September 2014 (Canada)
run time: 93 mins
director: Craig Johnson
starring: Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Boyd Holbrook, Ty Burrell, Luke Wilson, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Joanna Gleason, Ian Hyland, Jennifer Lafleur, Genevieve Adams, Paul Castro Jr., Eddie Schweighardt, Truck Hudson, Sydney Lucas, Cliff Moylan
movie summary: Milo (Bill Hader) is a failed actor who lives in Los Angeles. He is writing a suicide note and plans to slit his wrists in the bathtub. On the other side of the country, a woman name Maggie (Kristen Wiig) is about to take a whole bottle of pills and end her life. The phone rings so she puts the pills down only to find out her brother is in the hospital recovering from a failed suicide attempt. Maggie flies across country to bring her brother home in hopes that spending time together can patch up their rocky relationship and allow for Milo to get a fresh start.
Their relationship has been rocky ever since their parents died and they bounced around from foster home to foster home. Milo left their small town to pursue his big dreams but reality kicked in and after a another failed relationship he couldn’t take it anymore. Maggie meanwhile stayed in their hometown and settled down with Lance (Luke Wilson) and hopes to start a family soon. Milo’s first interaction with Lance is awkward because he just talks so much and is so full of energy which is the exact opposite of his sister. He tries best to befriend his brother-in-law but they too are complete opposites.
Milo hits up the local bars in hopes of finding a great guy to take home. When his search produces no results, he decides to look up an old friend to reignite the spark of an old relationship. Rich (Ty Burrell) works at the local bookstore and is shocked when Milo shows up at the store asking to talk. The two hurry out the store to avoid being seen together before agreeing to meet for a quick chat. Milo gets his hopes up that this could be something positive in his life.
He drops by Maggie’s work where the two agree to take nitrous oxide until both are so giddy they can’t talk. As the gas wears off they go lay down in the file room and tell each other their darkest secrets. Milo confesses a couple of minor things he’s done while Maggie drops the biggest bombshell he could ever imagine. The pair promise to keep their secrets forever and never share them because Maggie’s secret could ruin so many things.
Maggie’s life and addiction issues are spiraling out of control. Milo and Lance have no clue what’s going on but Maggie is scared to death that her period is late. Things seem to be running smoothly between the twins until a dance and a missed phone call at a Halloween party causes a major fight between the two. Milo gets a phone call from a secret he has kept from Maggie who loses her mind before yelling at him and leaving him stranded at the party. Milo decides it’s time to spill the beans about Maggie’s secrets and let the chips fall where they may.
my thoughts: The Skeleton Twins was given a limited release in the United States starting in September 2014. I added it to my Potential Gems list based on how amazing the trailer looked. Just last week this film opened at my local Cineplex and I was more than excited to catch it and have a laugh. Instead the funniest scenes in the movie are all in the two-minute trailer and what was left of the 93 minute movie was nothing but a depressing story about a pair siblings with deep physiological and emotion issues. I don’t mean to offend anyone or even the writers of this movie, but I can’t recall a movie that had such a dark and depressing tone before. The only thing that made me stay in my seat until the end was the excellent acting of Bill Hader.
Hader steals the show with his performance of a lazy, give up too easy on your dreams, gay guy who really just wants to be loved. The trailer showcases two great moments, the dentist office where they gas each other beyond belief and when Hader breaks out the iPod and cranks up “Nothing is Going to Stop Us” by Starship and dances like it is 1987. I had a good chuckle during the dance, not so much during the dentist office scene. The tone of the movie was so serious and monotone that it was hard to laugh at anything, even when Hader was trying to make you laugh. It was tough to sit there while they discussed their problems and continued to make the same mistakes over and over again. Hader’s character comes attempts to come full circle from being the one who is on suicide watch to the hero at the end. He is a broken soul that will always be broken, but he has his goldfish and his messed up sister and that is all he’ll need to be happy. Milo was a character that I could get behind, someone who wants to confront his demons, or at least fall back into the same pattern one last time, before realizing he can move on and be the better person.
Kristen Wiig on the other hand is always going to be associated with funny roles and her break out role in Bridemaids. In The Skeleton Twins she is more grown up with real life problems and a very deep bout of depression that causes her to make poor decisions on a nightly basis. She has a great guy at home but is so damaged that she’s willing to throw it all away for a cheap thrill. She is most likely using those outs as a way of dealing with her problems much like an alcoholic turning to the bottle to make everything go away. Wiig’s character was someone I didn’t pity or actually warm up to. She looked uncomfortable with her husband and was really awkward with her brother. Her poor choices only added fuel to the smouldering fire that was her life and I didn’t feel sorry when it all cam crashing down.
The other disappointing character of the movie was Luke Wilson’s Lance character. Like why was he even in the movie?? He had limited screen time, he hae limited character interactions, and is the one that gets walked all over in the end. I miss him and his comedic roles from the 2000s, but respect the limited roles he takes on today. He just deserved better than what he got in this movie.
my final thoughts: I showed the trailer to The Skeleton Twins to two friends, one thought it would be a great movie to watch with his sister while the other thought it was going to be really stupid. It was neither, but instead is a movie I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. I understand the message here is serious and was a movie I didn’t enjoy sitting though. Even if you like Hader and Wiig, you might be disappointed with their performances in this dark story about twin siblings who understand each other more than anyone else ever could.
my star rating: 3 out 10
rottentomatoes.com: 87% out 100%
rogerebert.com: 3.5 out 4