The Skeleton Twins

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The Skeleton Twins Movie

Taglines: Family is a cruel joke.

Estranged twins Maggie and Milo coincidentally cheat death on the same day, prompting them to reunite and confront the reasons their lives went so wrong. As the twins’ reunion reinvigorates them, they realize the key to fixing their lives may just lie in repairing their relationship.

The Skeleton Twins is an American comedy-drama film starring Kristen Wiig, Luke Wilson and Bill Hader, and directed by Craig Johnson. The film premiered in competition at 2014 Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2014. It won the Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic at the festival.

Kristen Wiig became famous for her outrageously funny performances on Saturday Night Live, but she’s shown enough by now that we shouldn’t be surprised when she gives an excellent, subtle dramatic performance. The big shock in The Skeleton Twins is that her former SNL castmate Bill Hader proves to be capable of the same thing. With his beetle brows, nasal voice, and angular features, he was always well-suited to grotesques, but the actor who once played Stefon is a much more life-sized gay man here. He and his co-star acquit themselves magnificently in this dramedy, which expands to Tarrant County theaters as well as the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

The Skeleton Twins Movie

About the Story

Milo (Bill Hader) writes a brief impersonal suicide note, and cuts his wrists. Meanwhile, Maggie (Kristen Wiig) is in her bathroom preparing to swallow a handful of pills, but is interrupted by a call from a hospital informing her that her brother – whom she hasn’t spoken to in 10 years – has unsuccessfully attempted suicide. Maggie goes to the hospital in California, and suggests that he come to stay with her in their hometown in New York for a while; he reluctantly agrees.

Milo meets Maggie’s gregarious husband Lance (Luke Wilson), who enthuses that he and Maggie are trying to have a baby, which surprises Milo, as Maggie said in the past that she never wanted children. Milo reacquaints himself with the town, and observes Rich (Ty Burrell), a middle-aged man he clearly knows, working in a bookstore. Meanwhile, Maggie is taking scuba lessons, and having a compulsive sexual liaison with Billy, the instructor.

At Milo’s invitation, their mother makes a surprise visit. She is a bit of a “free spirit” and has dropped in only because she was in the area, not because she’s particularly interested in spending time with her children. Maggie asks Milo if she’d be a good mother, and Milo honestly replies that she’d be overprotective and uptight, which upsets her; he later apologizes, joking that the reason he said that was his concern about her “morbid obesity”. Maggie later confesses to Milo that she’s been taking birth control pills, both to avoid having a child with Lance and because she’s been sleeping with the instructors of all the classes she’s been taking. She worries that she’s not worthy to be married to Lance, but Milo reassures her.

The Skeleton Twins Movie

Milo meets with Rich, who now has a 16-year-old son, and is dating a woman. Milo lies about his career, claiming to have an acting agent in Los Angeles, when he really just waits tables at a tourist restaurant. They spend the night together. Later Milo shows up at Rich’s house while his son is there, infuriating him with the danger of his past being exposed. Milo gets drunk, and throws away a trinket that Rich had given him in high school, which he still carried as a keepsake. Later he tells Maggie about a boy that had once bullied him, who – their father had assured him – would reach his peak in high school and have a miserable adult life. But it turned out that the bully had a successful happy life, and it was Milo who had peaked in high school. Maggie asks for reassurance that he won’t kill himself, and he promises to try not to.

Maggie and Milo spend Halloween together, and reminisce about their father’s death. Milo leaves his phone behind when he goes to the bathroom, and Maggie sees an incoming call from Rich. She is upset with Milo for resuming contact with Rich, who had been Milo’s teacher when he was 15 years old. Maggie had exposed their sexual relationship, ending Rich’s teaching career.

Lance confides to Milo that he is concerned that he may be infertile. Milo mentions that Maggie used to hide cigarettes around the house, planting the idea for Lance to look for medications that might be to blame. Maggie’s menstrual period is late, and she considers buying a pregnancy test. She runs into an old classmate with a badly-behaved child, which adds to her anxiety about parenting, but she is relieved when she begins menstruating.

The Skeleton Twins Movie Poster

The Skeleton Twins

Directed by: Craig Johnson
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Luke Wilson, Ty Burrell, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Joanna Gleason, Jennifer Lafleur, Genevieve Adams
Screenplay by: Mark Heyman, Craig Johnson
Production Design by: Ola Maslik
Cinematography by: Reed Morano
Film Editing by: Jennifer Lee
Costume Design by: Mikaela Wohl
Set Decoration by: Lauren DeTitta
MPAA Rating: R for language, some sexuality and drug use.
Studio: Duplass Brothers Productions
Release Date: September 19, 2014

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