The Skeleton Twins

I’ve got my fingers crossed for this little movie. It’s easily in my top two of the year so far (the #1 being Obvious Child), and I’d like nothing more than for Bill Hader to be nominated for some sort of meaningless statue for his performance as Milo in this movie. He is continually impressive.

I’d say this movie could only exist because of Saturday Night Live, because of the incredible sibling chemistry between Hader and Kristen Wiig, but this movie brings out talents of theirs that weren’t ever broached on that show. The Skeleton Twins is wonderfully dark and depressing, relaying the story of twins who grow apart and experience very similar, fragile, and eventually suicidal emotional states, only to reunite and rebuild their relationship. Only one part of the movie is like a sketch, wherein they duet “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” and you even see that in the trailer. The rest is even better, and deeper, and more emotionally satisfying.

Maggie (Wiig) is dealing with a perfectly lovable derp of a husband, Lance (Luke Wilson), who makes really dumb jokes and censors himself very quaintly (“effin’ sea turtle!”), and the lack of true love she feels towards him. It’s painful to watch, but also impossible not to be on her side. Lance does nothing for her except provide what a storybook husband should provide. He’s completely blind to her feelings, and they have almost nothing in common. Maggie’s real personality only ever comes out when she’s around Milo, and even then, she’s pretty understated.

Milo, on the other hand, has an even more complicated backstory. He was in a relationship with a teacher (Ty Burrell) in high school, and after his suicide attempt and temporary relocation to Maggie and Bruce’s house in their hometown, he decides to reconnect with said teacher. It’s icky and heartbreaking, and despite the outward repulsion of the situation, it’s also hard not to root for them. I wondered what they were like when Milo was in high school.

I really applaud the writer, Craig Johnson, for building a unique pair of brother and sister characters. Of course, it helped to have cast Wiig and Hader, who just get each other, but I still think that there was an element of trust that only Johnson could have contributed, built into the script somehow, from his own experiences. I’m not sure how he did it, and I’m incredibly envious. The movie was about two suicidal people who share DNA. I relate to neither of those things, yet I found myself perfectly capable of sympathizing, because I understood how they trust each other. That’s a profound accomplishment for a screenwriter. Well done, team Skeleton Twins. Here’s hoping you don’t get shut out of awards season by the drama blockbusters.

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