The Skeleton Twins: We Are Family (Review and Trailer)

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The Skeleton Twins being released on digital HD seems as good a time as any to look at the Saturday Night Live alum picture with its “we are family” message.Starring Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, the film was directed by Craig Johnson (in his second feature film in the driver’s seat), who also co-wrote the screenplay with Mark Heyman (Black Swan, Cha Cha de los Chans), the film stars the two former SNL entertainers as estranged siblings who avoid death at roughly the same time and attempt to reconnect afterward.

Milo, at the beginning of the film puts on some loud music, and places himself in the bathtub where he slits his wrists. Sister Maggie, is contemplating a handful of pills when she gets a call about her twin’s attempted suicide. Arriving at the hospital, she sees Milo’s suicide note, one sentence with a shaky smiley face added to it, and tells her brother that he can recuperate at her place. Once there, Maggie’s husband, the outgoing very-grounded Lance, played by Luke Wilson, is excited to meet his mysterious brother-in-law.

While the siblings attempt to make up for the ten years they have spent apart, they both continue their individual self destructive paths. Maggie is addicted to having sexual flings with instructors she meets at various classes she takes and Milo hooks back up with his old teacher (Modern Family‘s Ty Burrell) who had sex with him when he was 15. The Skeleton Twins deals with a brother and sister who were once very close and whose life allowed them to drift apart. The Skeleton Twins, has a message by its conclusion that allows the twins to say, “we are family despite our differences and our destructive lifestyles.”

Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig have worked in a previous film together but the two did not share any screen time. The movie was the 2011 science fiction comedy Paul, with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Seth Rogen voicing the CG alien named Paul. In that film, Hader was an inept agent tasked with helping to bring Paul back to be studied and Wiig was Ruth Buggs, the love interest of Pegg’s character Graeme Willy.

In a lot of ways The Skeleton Twins and Paul have a lot in common, despite the lack of interaction between Hader and Wiig, both have the same problem of being so much less than they could have been. Like Paul, the thought and intent by the filmmakers is there, but somehow, the whole thing is let down by the film’s execution. It does not lay with Johnson alone, it has more to do with a plot and story that gives Luke Wilson far too little to do and the two actors who play the once-close twins never really create a spark of life.

Milo, just comes across as being whiney and miserable while Maggie seems eternally down, even when participating in illicit sex with her scuba instructor. Whether the fault is due to a lack of chemistry between the two or the way the script is structured is not clear. The scene where the two mime to the song Nothing’s Going to Stop Us Now is amusing and one gets the feeling that when they were kids this was a favorite past time. As such this is the only time the two have mutual emotions that feel real.

Both Hader and Wiig give good performances. These, however, are not enough to break through the overall feeling of boredom that the film provokes. The Skeleton Twins may be all about two estranged twins proving that together “we are family,” but for the audience, by the end; the film’s conclusion feels hollow and one feels more empathy for Luke Wilson as the poor mistreated nice-guy husband of Maggie than any real connection with either twin. Released on December 2 via digital HD streaming, The Skeleton Twins will be out on Blu Ray and DVD by December 16. Prepare to be slightly amused and to feel a lot of sympathy for both Luke Wilson and his character.

By Michael Smith