Review – The Skeleton Twins

Poster for 2014 drama The Skeleton Twins

Genre: Drama
Certificate: 15
UK Release Date: 7th November 2014
Runtime: 93 minutes
Director: Craig Johnson
Writer: Craig Johnson, Mark Heyman
Starring: Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Luke Wilson, Ty Burrell
Synopsis: A pair of estranged siblings are reunited at the lowest points in their lives and attempt to help each other through their issues, creating the chance to mend their broken relationship.

 

 

When you see Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig on the poster for a film, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s a broad comedy. However, the two Saturday Night Live alumni have produced something very different and altogether more interesting in the shape of sibling drama The Skeleton Twins.

Out of work actor Milo (Hader) attempts suicide, unknowingly interrupting his sister Maggie (Wiig) who is preparing to do exactly the same thing. Milo moves in to the house Maggie shares with her husband Lance (Luke Wilson) and reconnects with figures from his past (Ty Burrell). Slowly but surely, the siblings begin to help repair each other’s lives. 

The Skeleton Twins is a film that takes its bizarre tone and runs with it. It’s an intriguing concoction of deadly serious drama and pitch black comedy. For every astonishingly bleak moment, there’s a laugh. Unfortunately, this tone leaves the film feeling somewhat uneven and bumpy, unsure of exactly where it wants to pitch itself.

| "I can’t wait to be the creepy gay uncle."

In order for The Skeleton Twins to work at all, it had to have two strong central performances. Step forward, Hader and Wiig, who have an undeniable chemistry. Neither of their characters are pretty likeable, with Wiig especially capable of some terribly unsympathetic acts, but the natural spark between the two stars turns Milo and Maggie into characters worth caring about.

It’s this connection that brings about the best moments of The Skeleton Twins. Whether the siblings are bickering on the front porch or miming their way through a genuinely hilarious cover of Starship’s ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’, which is sadly a moment spoiled in the trailer. In fact, it’s tough to shake the feeling that Wiig and Hader could make a much better film if they were given a broad comedy, rather than a wryly amusing drama.

There are plenty of other good things about The Skeleton Twins, with Ty Burrell playing heavily against type as a former teacher who had a sexual relationship with Milo whilst he was underage. Burrell’s performance is complex, completely different to the comedic roles for which he is famous.

| "I’m tired of you acting like you’re the healthy one and I’m the special needs kid."

It’s pacing that stops The Skeleton Twins from living up to its potential. The first act of the film is hideously sluggish, failing to provide much in the way of emotional depth or laughs. It isn’t until the halfway point that the film kicks up a gear and finds its feet, but by then, it has become very difficult to get invested.

These two stars have a great film in them, but The Skeleton Twins is not quite it.

 

Pop or Poop?

Rating: Pop!

Marred by a bit of tonal difficulty, The Skeleton Twins is an otherwise solid showcase for the crackling chemistry between US comedy stars Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader.

The film gives the two more interesting work to do and allows for some real emotional depth. Unfortunately, the script isn’t quite sharp enough to make the film as good as it could be.

 

Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

One thought on “Review – The Skeleton Twins

  • 03/12/2014 at 04:37
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    Great review! I really enjoyed this film. I’ve debated with myself whether the uneven pacing and tone add a sense of realism to the film or if they are distractions. Honestly, I kind of like the uncertainty in tone, given the uncertainty of the situations in which the characters find themselves.

    Reply

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