Saturday movie review: 'The Skeleton Twins'

The Skeleton Twins

This movie proves it in spades: Kristen Wiig has acting chops and can play more than funny. In THE SKELETON TWINS, Wiig's character, Maggie, shows not one whit of her freaky yet supposedly funny Saturday Night Live characters. No Penelope. No Target Lady. And no Lawrence Welk singer Doonese. Thank heavens for that, as I cannot stand any of those characters.

Considering my dislike for Wiig's SNL skits, I suppose it's odd I anxiously awaited the release of THE SKELETON TWINS, a drama which also stars Bill Hader (another SNL star) as Maggie's brother, Milo, who stays with her after his failed suicide attempt, and the always charming Luke Wilson as Maggie's far too kind hubby, Lance. But how could I not after seeing the following trailer for the film?


The bittersweet connection between the messed up siblings attracted me to THE SKELETON TWINS. Perhaps because I have messed up connections with messed up siblings of my own. But don't we all? The tale of the twins — both suicidal, both trying to save one another — hurt my heart and warmed it in equal measure.

While the actors are, for the most part, comedians (Ty Burrell from Modern Family also stars), there's far more funk than funny in THE SKELETON TWINS, directed by Craig Johnson. Brother and sister struggle with their painful past, their relationships, the holes in their hearts. Their situations are sad. And there are no simple answers that lead to the elusive happy we all strive for but seldom find.

Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig The Skeleton TwinsBill Hader and Kristen Wiig in THE SKELETON TWINS. Photo credit: Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

But there are funny parts in the film. And sweet parts. And sentimental parts. And plenty of parts that show not only that Kristen Wiig has acting chops, but that Bill Hader does, too. You'll never look at either one of them the same again after witnessing their work in THE SKELETON TWINS. And in my book, that's a good thing.

The acting isn't the only top-notch thing about the film. In fact, the screenplay — co-written by Craig Johnson and Mark Heyman — won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, "For a screenplay that skillfully writes the line between heartbreaking drama and side-splitting humor in a story that keeps us invested because the writers care deeply about all the characters."

I love that in the production notes for the THE SKELETON TWINS is a quote from poet Maya Angelou: "I don't believe accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at." Maggie and Milo definitely work at it. Their sincere yet often inept attempts at making sense of their connection as well as their own individual lives made for a poignant film that has stuck with me.

THE SKELETON TWINS (rated R for "language, some sexuality and drug use") is currently playing in theaters. Find more information at