While they hammed it up together on Saturday Night Live together for years, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader tone it down for The Skeleton Twins. Playing siblings (twins, of course), the pair start the film off with each about to commit suicide. Milo (Hader) slits his wrist in the bathtub. Maggie (Wiig) is about to pop a bunch of pills. Fun stuff, right?
Before she can put the pills in her mouth, Maggie gets her phone call that her brother is in the hospital after a suicide attempt. So she stops her plan and heads to the hospital. The two haven’t spoken in 10 years (it’s not clear why), but it doesn’t take long for them to find their connection again. The chemistry between Hader and Wiig is fantastic. It’s clear how comfortable they are with each other, which makes their sibling connection so believable. Maggie takes Milo home until he recovers, and he meets her husband, Lance (Luke Wilson) for the first time.
The setup of the film seems as though it could be this decade’s You Can Count On Me. That brilliant 2000 film starring Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo about siblings that are brought back together after a long absence. We watched those characters subtly change through poignant moments leading to a wonderfully simple ending that showed that Linney’s character would never be the same. I wish I could say the same about The Skeleton Twins.
Hader and Wiig are brilliant. Wiig has shown this depth before on the big screen, but we’ve never seen Hader take on such an interesting and challenging role before. Playing a struggling gay actor, Hader nails it. It’s a shame the script lets them down. As the film progresses, it fails to create powerful moments that help the characters develop. It relies on a song in several scenes to communicate the emotion instead of speaking them through the dialogue.
The ending especially leaves you with a sense of emptiness. With a song on the soundtrack, it tries to disguise the fact that it really hasn’t provided any meaningful conclusion for the characters. It just throws some uplifting music on there to help put a smile on your face. For the performances that Hader and Wiig are giving, they deserve better material supporting them.