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The Skeleton Twins - Film Review

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by Richard Leathem (subscribe)
Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published September 12th 2014
A comedy with plenty of meat
Director: Craig Johnson (True Adolescents)
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Luke Wilson, Ty Burrell

One can only hope that the huge success of Bridesmaids will encourage the masses to see Kristen Wiig's latest vehicle The Skeleton Twins, a dark but often hilarious comedy that deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.

skeleton twins kristen wiig bill hader
Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader as dysfunctional twins Maggie and Molly

The twins of the title are Maggie and Milo (Wiig and Bill Hader). They haven't seen each other for ten years but all that changes after Milo attempts suicide. Maggie collects him from hospital and compels him to stay with her and husband Lance (Luke Wilson) for as long as it takes to recuperate. It's clear from their banter that the two siblings were scrappy little rascals as kids, but while Milo still has a wicked, mischievous streak, Maggie is trying to settle down with her doting, guileless husband.

While Maggie strives to instill some balance into Milo's life, his presence begins to have more of an influence on her. Slowly she unravels and we learn that Milo isn't the only one with some serious issues to address.

skeleton twins kristen wiig bill hader

While all this may sound like heavy drama, the title characters are so quick witted and have such an innate ability to find humour in the darkest situations, that the film is frequently very funny. Milo in particular is like the naughty brother who makes you laugh even when you don't want to. And in the annals of straight actors playing gay characters, Bill Hader easily places himself right at the top of the class. With little in the way of obvious affectations, he is immediately recognizable as that razor sharp, acerbic, brilliant but brittle gay friend we all know. Just a slight arch of an eyebrow or a small, tight smile is all it takes. He is so believable in all his frivolity and pain.

Kristen Wiig is also very good, and although she's playing the straight guy (so to speak) much of the time, she still gets to display her trademark expert comic timing. Together the two actors are a force to be reckoned with, and having worked with each other for years on Saturday Night Live, the chemistry is there for all to see.

skeleton twins kristen wiig bill hader

The actors are expertly serviced by a smart and subtle script that slowly peels away the layers of their troubled history, and the reasons for their self destructive behaviour are never conveyed in simplistic, obvious ways.

Moviegoers shouldn't be put off by the dark underbelly of The Skeleton Twins. If anything, the disturbing undertone lifts the comedy to greater heights. This is that rare film that has you laughing out loud yet triggers something inside you that lingers long after it's finished.

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Why? One of the year's funniest films
Where: At selected cinemas
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