The Skeleton Twins – Review

If you’re a fan of US television comedy (which you should be), you may have noticed an ongoing trend of late in which the stars of your favourite comedy series will inevitably begin to appear in low budget dramedies presumably to showcase their comedy shtick to a wider audience without studio interference, but also to flex their dramatic muscles in the process. Most of the time these movies rank only as “decent enough”, but every now and again there’s a diamond in the rough. For every Admission, there’s a Kings Of Summer; and for every Girl Most Likely, there’s a Skeleton Twins.

The Skeleton Twins follows a pair of estranged twins Milo and Maggie (Saturday Night Live alums Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig), who reunite following suicide attempts coincidentally on the same day. Reconnecting at Maggie’s home in upstate New York, the pair begin to address their various traumas in life, past relationships and the general disappointments that led them to such a dark but shared place after a decade apart.

The epitome of dramedy (the jokes are only funny because the drama naturally builds to them), The Skeleton Twins sets the tone early on to hinge entirely on it’s leads, and with such game performers in Hader – who has literally never been better – and Wiig – who has struggled to really recapture the high’s of 2011’s Bridesmaids – the film is in very confident and thoroughly likeable hands. With an obvious bed of improvisation beneath the surface, writer/director Craig Johnson’s story gives the pair a lot to work with and allows their natural charm and interplay to round both characters out nicely. Hader edges ahead of Wiig marginally by having the more enjoyably extroverted of the two roles (exemplified by a fantastic lip-sync scene), but Wiig’s slightly darker and more internalised lead is never tiresome or any less welcome.

With a terrific supporting cast, a tidy ninety-minute runtime and a pleasant visual tapestry at work courtesy of Johnson, there’s a lot to like in The Skeleton Twins; a dramedy which ranks amongst the year’s finest, that reminds you how well the genre can work when thought and intelligence are applied to it, and takes a position on mental health in an otherwise uplifting film for which it should be commended and admired.

Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.

In it
Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Ty Burrell
Behind it
Craig Johnson

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