Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig are both absolutely fantastic in the poignant and hilarious black comedy The Skeleton Twins. Any movie that’s able to wring laughs out of the topic of suicide knows a thing or two about sly, subtle, dangerous humor; this is a film that goes to some tough places and asks for serious commitments from its two leads, who are more than up to the dramatic challenge. This is a wonderful brother-sister movie, filled with terrific scene after terrific scene, and even if there’s one narrative misstep that keeps it from being extra-tidy, there’s so much to enjoy and recommend about the storytelling. Hader and Wiig are estranged siblings, who crash back into each other’s orbits after both experience some scary life lessons. They are both broken souls, drifting through their respective problems, and the hope is that they might be able to bond once more in effort for some type of healing. Craig Johnson’s tonally perfect direction and character focused script (co-written with Mark Heyman) nails the sadness and the humor that’s necessary for a story like this.
Luke Wilson is a supporting actor MVP, stealing every single scene he appears in. But the movie belongs to Hader and Wiig, who both hit new heights as performers, with Hader in particular surprising in a big way. Never going over the top yet always bristling with emotion and outward feeling, his performance is perfectly in tune with the exceptionally dead-pan comedy style that Wiig excels at. Everyone knows that Hader can be a clown; here he’s able to get serious at a moment’s notice and I loved everything about him in this movie. Wiig continues her stellar big-screen run and adds another comical sad-sack to her repertoire, but this time, mixed in some serious grace notes as a dramatic actress. And in their numerous scenes together, Hader and Wiig radiate true sibling chemistry that’s a joy to watch. Painful one moment and then laugh out loud funny the next, The Skeleton Twins is one of those great little films that will surprise anyone who gives it a chance.
Review by Nick Clement