AEOS Review: The Skeleton Twins (2014)

The Skeleton Twins (2014) is a movie that originally I wasn’t anticipating. I saw the trailer in a long list of previews before seeing a film, and it didn’t strike me as a movie with a chance of moving me or appealing to me. After Tom over at Digital Shortbread wrote a very nice review on the film, he convinced me otherwise that I needed to give this movie a try. So I did.

Because it didn’t stay in theaters long, and I’ve seen few reviews on the film, here’s a short summary of the film for those of you unfamiliar with the story:

Maggie (Kristen Wiig) and Milo (Bill Hader) are estranged twins, each who happen to attempt suicide on the same day. Before Maggie can go through with it, she receives a phone call notifying her that Milo is in the hospital, healing after a suicide attempt. In light of this news, Maggie welcomes Milo back into her life, inviting him to stay with her and her husband, Lance (Luke Wilson) in their New York home. As Maggie and Milo start to reconnect, catching up over the past decade and reminiscing over their passed father, high school, and growing up years, each have secrets come to the surface that maybe they weren’t planning to spill.

There were moments when I connected with this story, and other times I felt like I was sitting on the outside looking in. What I wasn’t expecting to see was Bill Hader portraying a hardened, flamboyant, complicated character who could make you laugh in one scene, and be emotionally moved the next. Hader lost himself in Milo, and while it was obvious that his Saturday Night Live run influenced certain scenes, it also aided his chemistry with his co-lead, Kristen Wiig, who turned in one of her best film performances to date.

These two comedians successfully depict an estranged set of twins who honestly tell each other how it is while still connecting in a way neither know how to connect with anyone else. They play siblings convincingly enough that no one would question otherwise.

But even after witnessing this turn in two well-known comedians, The Skeleton Twins seems to shock again with unexpectedly good performances from the resurrected Luke Wilson and Modern Family‘s lovably clueless father, Ty Burell. Wilson might play a familiar and simple character, but he has the tricky job of playing a likable yet naive husband devoid of passion. It is his lack of passion, thereof, that probably helps sets off another major plot point (which I will not spoil for those of you who plan to watch this).

Burell also displays his more dramatic acting chops as Milo’s previous English teacher who was inappropriately involved in his teacher-student relationship with his former student. Milo is still processing, reacting, and trying to figure out himself, even years after the discretion.

Like most movies, things start out bad. Things may get worse, but eventually a light is shining at the end of the tunnel and the film has resolved, be it positive or negative. With The Skeleton Twins, there’s really no light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a story of two adults who have muddled through life over the past decade, from one failure to the next, each turning to suicide as an escape from the difficulties life has thrown them. While one might expect this movie to be cheery, it really isn’t, even amidst the occasional laughs. What The Skeleton Twins does successfully present viewers with are great, emotionally complex characters who feel lost and are searching for something, even if they’re not sure what. It’s what made me both like and dislike the movie’s ending.

Early October is an odd time for a character-driven drama to be released, and with it not turning a major profit, it’s no surprise that it’s exiting theaters and entering your nearest Redbox machine in the next few weeks. But that isn’t a reason to not see this movie. I have personal quibbles with some of the writing, but I have great respect for writer-director Craig Johnson, who was able to churn out such moving performances from a set of actors no one was expecting them to offer.

I give The Skeleton Twins 

Eye Art1Eye Art1Eye Art1
ON SCREEN.

 

It’s your turn now. Have you seen The Skeleton Twins? If so, what did you think of it? If not, are you planning to see it? Please share your thoughts below, because I would love to know your thoughts.

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15 thoughts on “AEOS Review: The Skeleton Twins (2014)

  1. Hey thanks for the link Kristen! Nice to see my blog name elsewhere on the internets. . . 😀

    You’ve got a very curious review here. I like the points you make about the film not having a specific emotional trend. It’s like a roller coaster with no real “end” in sight; we go from being depressed, to more depressed to being a little uplifted, back to depressed and then. . . something bad happens. Lol. It isn’t a happy movie, but I thought this is what made TST so fantastic. It wasn’t afraid of telling the truth like it is. For that, I had to give it almost perfect marks.

    I can definitely look back and understand more and more easily how I wasn’t able to give a perfect 8/8 though, that’s for sure. It’s not even close to that. I guess for me it was the joy of seeing Hader and Wiig do something so much different. And looks like you were taken with them as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You bet! I enjoyed your review and was inspired to see the film for myself!

      Right – I can see what you’re saying about that. I felt similarly. The conversations and the situations felt somewhat to very realistic at times, and I think that’s what made The Skeleton Twins a good movie (in my opinion).

      Yes, I was definitely taken with the performances. The movie was performance-strong, and had it not been, the movie would cease to attract any positive attention, I would think. Thanks for your thoughts, Tom! I also enjoy talking movies with you!

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  2. I saw this on Tuesday after weeks of waiting in much anticipation for it. I was let down and can’t think of a movie that is more depressing then this one. I liked your review but would never watch this movie again, even with Bill Hader’s excellent performance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there! Welcome to the site, and thanks for visiting!! Aww, I’m sorry to hear that. The Skeleton Twins definitely has its share of depressing material. I’m glad you think Hader’s performance was excellent as well – he was the standout for me in the film.

      Also, I have to admit that the previews lead you to believe the movie’s going to be a lot funnier than what it is. It has funny moments, but overall, it’s pretty depressing subject material.

      Thanks again for commenting!

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  3. Hi Kris, I’m actually not that fond of the two lead actors. I mean I like them in SNL but they’re not the main draw for me to see a movie, y’know what I mean? The subject matter seems rather depressing too, so I doubt I’ll ever see this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sure, I totally get that, Ruth! I’m actually not a big fan of Kristen Wiig . . . on SNL, or in movies. I do like Bill Hader a lot, although I haven’t seen him in any great film roles until The Skeleton Twins. Truly, it’s his best dramatic acting on display in the film. The subject matter is rather depressing, so I can understand that. I’d totally recommend the film aside from that! But I get that it’s not for everyone.

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  4. We are one in the same! I had zero interest in seeing this one until I read Tom’s review. Although I still have not got around to seeing this one…

    I do still plan to find the interest for it at some point or another. It doesn’t look like something that would sell a ton of tickets so I’m not surprised that it did not do well. It probably deserves more attention though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey there! Yeah, it was because of his review that I decided to check it out 🙂

      Yeah, I think it would be nice if it got more attention, but like you said, it doesn’t attract a wide audience, and Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig don’t have headlining names, despite their immense talent and push from SNL.

      If you do see this, I look forward to reading your thoughts on it!

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    • I understand that dilemma. I’ve had the same issue in trying to see several films over the fall/early winter over here. It’s an interesting movie that I enjoyed, but I will probably not revisit any time soon. It has some great performances, particularly from Bill Hader, if you ask me. I’d love to know what you think of it when you get the chance to see it. Thanks for stopping by the site! 🙂

      Like

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