I’ve been doing these reviews for a while now, and I’m always looking for some new superlatives to describe the movies I really like. And right now I again find myself hunting for some over-the-top adjectives to exalt The Skeleton Twins because I was madly in love with this film when I saw it in the theater and didn’t change my mind at all when I viewed it on DVD.
Here’s a movie that won a screenwriting award at Sundance and also made the National Board of Review’s Top Ten Independent Films. But don’t see it for the awards it got. See it for its skillful blending of comedy with angst, the impressive acting by two Saturday Night Live veterans, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, Indie movie regular Luke Wilson the best he’s ever been, and if nothing else, see it for the Karaoke on “Nothing’s Going to Stop Us Now”. I also have to put in a word for the cinematographer, Reed Morano. She gifted us with some amazing shots, both underwater and above.
Storyline is easy: At its core, The Skeleton Twins is about twins, Milo and Maggie Dean, who live on opposite coasts and decide to attempt suicide on the same day, unbeknownst to the other. Obviously those attempts failed, or we wouldn’t have a movie. Maggie is Milo’s emergency contact, and before you know it, she has convinced him to spend some time with her on the East Coast. Maggie is living with her husband, Lance, and as I mentioned above, Luke Wilson nails it perfectly. Thank you, Casting Director Avy Kaufman (Kaufman has 27 years in the business and has worked on way more than 100 films and TV shows) if you had anything to do with this because it was brilliant casting. (Sort of like Woody Allen casting an unlikely Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris and then he turns out to be perfect.) Another casting triumph was Ty Burrell as Rich, the older man in Milo’s life. Hey, Ty, it’s good to see you away from your usual location on stage at numerous award shows, receiving “Best Ensemble” for Modern Family. Wiig and Hader most of all, however, are understatedly luminous, delivering career best performances.
They were lucky to have a script co-written by Mark Heyman and the movie’s director Craig Johnson, that gave them plenty to work with. The Skeleton Twins is about misunderstanding one’s potential, grave disappointment, struggling with family dynamics, and, finally, allowing hope to slightly trump despair. These themes are biggies, and to help them slide down smoothly is a cache of fine humor that creates people and situations instantly recognizable to the viewer. These actors quietly put the humor out there for us to find, rather than hitting us over the head with it, as some comedies are wont to do. And this large dose of subtle humor will help the viewer experience a certain kind of joy—that which results from having seen a film that both digs deep and makes you laugh. – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 12/16/14