While Craig Johnson’s “The Skeleton Twins” had every chance to be a self indulgent vehicle for two SNL alumnis, “The Skeleton Twins” ends up being quite fantastic, and compliments the idea that Kristen Wiig is more than a comedian. Co-star Bill Hader also proves he can handle dramatic material with the best of them. Hader’s turn as a self loathing homosexual who is one part of self destructive twins is something of a revelation, and his turn here is Oscar worthy. Maggie is on the verge of committing suicide when she gets a call from a hospital alerting her that her long lost twin brother Milo attempted suicide.
Distraught and with nowhere else to turn, she takes him in, introducing her to her own life which at first seems wholesome and comfortable. But it soon becomes clear to Milo that Maggie isn’t very happy, and she’s on the same path Milo is on. Though she’s perfectly content with her life, she’s also an individual who both embraces her quirks and despises them at the same time. She seeks out baser pleasures by enrolling in adult interest classes and ends up sleeping with the instructor, a habit she’s certain will lead her in to a path of real heart ache and pain. Milo is exactly like Maggie, embracing his homosexual identity, but also despising the person he is. He spends his time looking for some form of happiness among his community that leads him in to rekindling a relationship with an old school teacher that could also prove very disastrous.
Milo and Maggie are stuck in perpetual loops of masochism where they know what they’re doing will inflict immense pain, but have no idea how to stop the cycle, or jump out of the repetition of their dunderheaded mistakes.
This becomes especially troublesome for Maggie’s well meaning husband Lance. Luke Wilson is memorable as the good natured lug who can promise Maggie loyalty and stability, but perhaps monotony and boredom. What Maggie really fears eventually comes to light mid-way when we learn of their regrets over the death of their loving father when they were kids. This unresolved demon rises to surface when their very self-involved and neglectful mother comes over for dinner. She’s clearly a woman who only pretends to love her children, and Maggie hates her simply because she fears she may become her.
Especially with Lance pressuring her in to getting pregnant and starting a family with him. Wiig and Hader are incredible in their roles, presenting enormous chemistry.
They successfully inject layers and neuroses to these truly damaged siblings that hate themselves and one another, but have a hard time imagining life without their counterpart around. Their penchant for improv allows for a ton of very funny and very heartbreaking moments, including a wonderful serenade to Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.” Hader and Wiig add real pathos to what could have been two truly despicable characters. I loved “The Skeleton Twins,” it’s a wonderful and brutally engrossing dramedy about family and the lasting effects of growing up in dysfunctional households.