Saturday Night Live alumni have always made the natural transition to the big screen, some with more success than others. From John Belushi to Tina Fey we’ve seen many stars rise to the occasion. For Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids made her a stand-out one-to-watch. Now in a more subdued but equally neurotic comedy, The Skeleton Twins with best friend and SNL chum, Bill Hader, the two shine as two estranged siblings.
The film tells the story of Maggie (Wiig) and Milo (Hader) who are reunited after 10 years without contact. Both recovering from almost-suicides they are forced to reconnect and re-evaluate their lives and their relationship with one another. Milo is a gay, unsuccessful actor trying to get by in L.A., whilst Maggie is seemingly happily married to Lance (Luke Wilson), trying to get pregnant while also thwarting the efforts by continuing to take birth control. Both characters return to each other and their pasts with both heart-breaking and humorous consequences.
Where the film works best are when Hader and Wiig are able to play off each other as they have undoubtedly done hundreds of times during their SNL days. A scene in a dental hygienist’s office is particularly winning, as well as a spontaneous performance of Starship’s ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’- a scene which acts as a turning point for the film and propels into the last half of the narrative. Luke Wilson is an excellent third player, being so nice and easy-going that it highlights the vitriolic and bitter exchanges that pass between Maggie and Milo. He has an unforgiving role but it is an extremely affective counterpoint for the twin’s deep-seated problems.
At its root is a serious family drama dealing with the aftermath of traumatic events and how a dysfunctional childhood can affect a pair of siblings who only had each other but were too troubled to realise it. Episodes from their childhood resurface to haunt them, like a spooky skeleton from hiding in the closet. A few funny moments and excellent performances, The Skeleton Twins is an effective indie film which won’t appeal to everyone, but does touch on the everyday family conflicts which can be recognised by many who view it.