Skeleton Twins: For when you want to feel emotionally confused. It stars Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader as Maggie and Milo Dean, a pair of dysfunctional twins coping with childhood scars that continue to haunt them. Hader is a struggling actor living in L.A. and Wiig is a dental hygienist still living in their hometown in New York.
As children Maggie and Milo were seemingly inseparable but somewhere along the way they grew distant. Skeleton Twins is a heartfelt, at times frustrating, story of their reunion after a 10 year gap. Both of their characters can be wonderfully endearing. Bill Hader in particular really excels in his role as a gay man going through a recent breakup. His characters droll sense of humor seems to confuse or turn off those around him but it’s clear he has a big heart. It’s the “I got funny to cope with shit” story that I think many people are familiar with.
I feel conflicted about Wiig’s character. Though, that may just demonstrate how well she played her. Maggie is struggling to cope with the “perfect” life she has but never really planned on having. She’s married to, in her own words, a great guy played by Luke Wilson. Everything seems to be going well for them but she is clearly missing some kind of fulfillment.
The film explores childhood trauma as well as coming from a dysfunctional family. It opens with Wiig speculating to the audience that all their problems may have started with their father. The opening scene shows him as a faceless man behind a Dia de los Muertos skeleton mask. He is revisited throughout the film but always with an air of mystery about what happened. Their mother is briefly explored and played by Joanna Gleason.
Besides for a few lucky people, most families are familiar with loss, pain, or just bad shit happening to them. Then sometimes you encounter people who just never get a break. The families that have bad thing after bad thing follow them around forever. Skeleton Twins is the story of one of those families. At times it can be hard to root for the main characters. Yet, somehow I found myself still pulling for them by the end of the movie.
Skeleton Twins revisits some fears many of us shared while growing up. The fear of “peaking” in high school and never reaching the potential you envisioned for yourself. The fear of being alone. The fear of pushing everyone away. The fear of being in your 30s(+/- accordingly) and still being lost and confused about your place in the world. The biggest strength to the film is that the characters are human. There is no pure “good” character to pull for. Everyone is damaged. Everyone has baggage. Everyone has a story. There’s bits and pieces of us all represented in this film.
Beyond looking how families can hurt each other it also looks at how they can help with healing. It shows the love and compassion that can be offered by those that spent their entire lives with you. If you’re looking for continuous SNL styled laughs, this isn’t the film for you. If you’re looking for a dark comical exploration of how f’d up people can be, then look no further. 3.75 out of 5.