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.

Recast Edition: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (2008)

Eventually I’ll get around to reviewing Dr. Horrible, but until then, I wanted to do a special “recast edition” post on the web movie. “Recast Edition” is a type of post where I think of various actors that could potentially fill lead roles in a movie.

Penny

Penny is played by the pitch-perfect Felicia Day, who still might be the most-suited person to ever fill that role (point for you, Joss Whedon!). While she’s played a variety of guest roles on TV,  she’s primarily known for her web series that she created and stars in, The Guild.

My sister, Jenn, and I talked about the idea of recasting these roles, and one actress we both agreed on to play Penny was Zooey Deschanel. I think she is able to fill the shoes of an innocent, caring girl caught between a guy at the laundromat and local hero who just saved her life. Deschanel also has that quirkiness factor that Day has, and on top of that, Deschanel can sing pretty well, making her a nice fit for a supporting role in a web musical.

Captain Hammer

Nathan Fillion does an excellent job of bringing on the cheesiness while being hilarious at the same time. Basically, he plays the perfect douche. Jenn and I battled over this role more so because there are quite a few actors out there who are capable of this. But the big question was, can any of them sing? So after we rifled through various douche-like actors, I came to the conclusion that Jason Sudeikis would make an on-par Captain Hammer. The guy proved he could sing through his long-time running on SNL, and not many actors are capable of evoking a great amount of cheesiness such as Mr. Sudeikis.

Another interesting option to consider is Jon Hamm. Between his hilariously douchey portrayal of Kristen Wiig’s friend with benefits on Bridesmaids to his nice work on his hosting gig for SNL, Jon Hamm has a douche character down. But can he sing? Sudeikis is still my first pick, but I think Hamm would make an excellent back-up plan.

Dr. Horrible

I labored over this role more than the others. It’s nearly impossible to consider seeing anyone else pulling off this role quite like Neil Patrick Harris did. His excellent enunciation, his subtle humor, his clear dedication to taking over the world–is there really anyone else out there who could ever play Dr. Horrible? While I struggle to maintain only a single choice for this role, a few actors who came to mind include Ben Feldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Matthew Morrison, Bill Hader,  and Dominic Cooper.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

Thirty-one year old actor Ben Feldman isn’t known for much more than his most recent and successful role playing Fred on the Lifetime series Drop Dead Diva. Why would he make a good Dr. Horrible? He looks young and vulnerable, yet capable of showing a dark side. And the dude can sing . . . well. After hearing him sing on DDD, I thought he should be in more musical productions.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Right, right, I know–he and Deschanel starred in that little, awesome movie called (500) Days of Summer. But why would he be a good fit for Dr. Horrible? First off, he has a certain look that’s similar to NPH, having a slimmer frame. Second, he’s into more grassroots projects, such as his own company he started called “HitRECord,” so the idea of being in a web movie would be appropriate for him. And third, he’s proven he can sing in movies as well as at some of the HitRECord meetings.

Glee’s Matthew Morrison has hit it big since he joined the ever growing-in-popularity FOX show. And many congrats to him for that. The guy came from Broadway like NPH and has a fantastic voice. He even looks the part. My beef with this choice, however, is the question of whether he can act the part. Personally, I regard the guy as a little arrogant from various stories/interviews, but then again, how can we know what a person is really like?

Another SNL guy, Bill Hader easily looks the most different of the group, and that is why I thought of him as an option. He’s great at playing all different types of  characters on SNL, and Dr. Horrible is definitely some kind of character. I’m curious as to whether he can sing or not, but I’m convinced he could play a silly villain easier than the rest of the bunch.

Probably the least known of this group is Dominic Cooper, who was in the film version of Mamma Mia as the character Sky, who played opposite Amanda Seyfried. Why this guy? Well, we’re assured he definitely has the vocal chops. Cooper also has a different look to him. He’s English, but he would probably be fine using a convincing American accent.

So, who to choose from the list? This is the order I would choose them in:

1) Joseph Gordon-Levitt

2) Ben Feldman

3) Bill Hader

4) Dominic Cooper

5) Matthew Morrison

What do you think? Am I way off in my choices? Who would you cast as the leads if you were casting director?

New Dr. Horrible Dream Team?