The Skeleton Twins Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader are scarily good at seeming to be joined at the hip in The Skelton Twins. They play long-estranged, endlessly sad twins with a seriously messed-up family history and the actors’ no-sweat chemistry and simpatico is really uncanny, going way beyond their working relationship and friendship as former cast members of Saturday Night Live.
The movie begins with Wiig’s character Maggie getting stopped from gulping a mess of pills by the news that brother Milo tried to end things by slashing his wrists. Milo, a broken, gay, struggling actor leaves Los Angeles and takes up temporary residence back east with his depressed, untethered sister and her loving, peppy puppy dog of a blue collar husband (Luke Wilson, very good). While the secretive Maggie has an affair with her hunky Australian scuba diving instructor, the equally secretive Milo seeks out and stalks the still closeted, married-with-kids high school teacher who seduced and dumped him years before (an excellent Ty Burrell).
These self-sabotaging characters don’t drunk dial, they drunk-live. The movie gets funnier and sadder as the two sardonic siblings try to grab some happiness from whatever’s left of their messed-up lives. They play dress up for Halloween, they lip-synch, they finish each other’s sentences and they cut deep when they wound and slash at each other. Directed and co-written by Craig Johnson with Mark Heyman (Black Swan), the movie bumps and skids on an awful lot of formulaic stuff and it sure backs away like a Roomba whenever things promise to get really messy and interesting for its characters. But Wiig and Hader make it sing. We come into this thing knowing how good Wiig can be and she doesn’t disappoint. But Hader is the real Easter Egg here. Don’t worry, he’s still funny and inventive but he’s also so raw and unguarded that his character leaves a mark on you. It’s a great performance. ***