Skeleton Twins Review

The_Skeleton_Twins_posterSkeleton 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.

THE SKELETON TWINS, from left: Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, 2014. ©Lionsgate/Courtesy Everett Collection
THE SKELETON TWINS, from left: Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, 2014. ©Lionsgate/Courtesy Everett Collection

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 film_skeletontwins-magschool 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.

Godzilla Review (Originally written May 2014)

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I’ll admit, I jumped on the Godzilla bandwagon.  I jumped on it real fast.  From the moment I heard that monstrous roar I was drooling.

It’s now 2:45 in the morning and I’ve just arrived home from seeing the movie.  What. A. Movie.

Alas, I don’t mean that in a good way.  Considering it’s a two hour long movie called “Godzilla” I went in assume Godzilla would be the main character.  Nope. Instead, the movie follows the family hijinks of Heisenberg and Kickass. Err… I mean Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his son Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).  Kickass goes on adventures of having the shit kicked out of him but never seeming like he’s in actual danger.

There were multiple scenes in the movie where I’d start to get pumped up.  “This is it.” I found myself thinking.  The impending monster apocalypse has arrived and is about to start in all its glory.  HERE IT COMES! OH MAN! Cut to new scene.  Huh?  Wait.  Godzilla.  Come back to me you majestic gorilla-whale.   Nope, that’s all the Godzilla for now.  Let’s go back to those silly little humans and their silly little plans that make little to no sense. Dammit.

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Fuck.

I kept finding myself thinking about another giant monster film that came out somewhat recently.  Yup, you guess it, Pacific Rim.  Now Pacific Rim may not be the greatest movie ever but it gave you what you came for.  Giant monster vs giant robot fights. I want to see my baby Gojira murder the hell out of some MUTOs.

When the movie started to approach its climax, and the monster bash was clearly about to begin in earnest, I started paying attention to how long Godzilla was on screen.  Approximately 10-15 minutes.  Perhaps 20-30 minutes in the entire movie.  These aren’t 20 action packed minutes either.  Roughly half the time Godzilla is on screen we’re either following his movements as he’s submerged underwater or seeing a super close up.

Perhaps you can tell I’m a bit upset.  I REALLY wanted this movie to be great.  To show that Americans could do Godzilla right.  Maybe this film is proof that we cannot do any such thing.  We can make a crappy romance story/family drama that occasionally features a giant monster destroying shit.  That’s about it.

While this film isn’t as bad as the 1998 predecessor, it certainly drops the ball.  Most of my gripes (pretty much all of my gripes) come from the lack of Godzilla in a movie called Godzilla.  If this film was called “Immortal Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Lieutenant That Seems Really Well Versed In a Variety of Situations” it’d be a different  story.

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“You mean that’s all we see of Godzilla?”

Bryan Cranston, in his role of a distraught and grieving husband, is engaging and moving. Sadly, most of the other performances fall short. The only other human character I found myself enjoying was Dr. Ichiro Serizawa played by Ken Wantanabe AKA the actual Last Samurai. It seems like this genius scientist becomes increasingly dimwitted as the movie progresses. The writing for the female characters (Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, and Juliette Binoche) is practically nonexistent and mostly boils down to looks of shock. Godzilla has its flaws but the writing stands out as the biggest culprit.

I guess it all comes down to “Should I see this movie?”  It’s a tough call actually.  First you must ask yourself another question “Do I want to see this movie solely for Godzilla fucking shit up?”  If you answered yes to this question, you probably shouldn’t see this movie.  You will more than likely be disappointed.  The last 15-20 minutes are where the bulk of the action is found.  The other 100 minutes feel more like filler and a desperate attempt to make us care about people you don’t actually care about.  I give Godzilla 3 out of 5.  While not a bad movie in its own right, its biggest downfall is taking a beloved icon like Godzilla and essentially putting him in the background of his own movie.