The Skeleton Twins (2014)

Directed by: Craig Johnson
Starring: Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Luke Wilson, Ty Burrell
Genre: Comedy, Drama

The Skeleton Twins is a film that is humorous, heart-warming and at times very depressing.

Protagonists Milo (Bill Hader) and Maggie (Kristen Wiig) are dysfunctional siblings who are reunited after 10 years during a dark time in both of their lives. The film begins with Milo, an unsuccessful gay actor, attempting to commit suicide. Simultaneously, Maggie who lives in a different state is extremely close to doing the same until she receives a call from a hospital informing her of Milo’s condition. Maggie visits Milo and convinces him to come and stay with her in New York. Soon after their arrival, Milo meets Maggie’s husband Lance (Luke Wilson), a friendly, masculine and simplistic character who enjoys a laid back attitude towards life. Milo is uncertain about Maggie’s relationship with Lance, her home and her life overall. His suspicion manifests from how he believes Maggie would have liked her life to unfold and its contrast to her current situation.

Initially, Milo and Maggie’s relationship seems forced, but as the story unfolds their unique bond as siblings is evident. They attempt to help each other find happiness but struggle to take advice from each other. This is partially due to the fact that they are siblings and have not seen each other in a decade, but also because of their troubled childhood. The complexity of their childhood is revealed throughout the film and explores themes of family relationships, suicide, molestation and sexuality in general.

The cast in The Skeleton Twins do an admirable job at portraying their characters within the context of current society. Hader’s performance as Milo plays on some gay and artistic performer stereotypes without being offensive. Hader’s mannerisms are what make his performance brilliant. There is never a stage of this film where he seems out of character. Wiig’s performance as Maggie is also strong. She exhibits her characters clear depression incredibly well and successfully exemplifies her characters resilience when in public or with her husband Lance.

Lance is the most likeable character in the film. Whilst at first Lance seems like a cringe worthy jock, it is quickly established that he is a fantastic husband and a genuinely lovely human being. Wilson manages to turn a simple character into one with depth through the gradual relationship difficulties his character endures.

Ty Burrell’s performance as Rich is restrained and believable. Rich is an old friend of Milo’s and their relationship hints at having been romantic, but is somewhat of a mystery until later in the film. Rich’s life has significantly changed since he last saw Milo. Burrell’s commendable portrayal of Rich exemplifies his desire and struggle to change his life and façade.

The visuals and sound in The Skeleton Twins are clear and clean but are not the most prominent features of the film. A visual highlight was the several underwater scenes shot in an indoor swimming pool. The standout scene in regard to sound is when Milo and Maggie lip sync and dance to Nothing’s Gonna Stop us Now by Starship. This scene is not only the most memorable in terms of use of sound in the film, but also one of the best and most hilarious scenes overall. Other memorable scenes include when Milo and Maggie cross dress for Halloween and when they get high off laughing gas, resulting in them revealing some hilarious and terrible secrets.


The Skeleton Twins does well to keep viewers engaged with a plot that is never really leading anywhere. The chaotic personalities of the protagonists and a hope that they can find a balance in life to counter their depression are what keep the viewer interested. As I watched the film there were only a couple of ways I could see it ending, and whilst the characters produced some hilarious, depressing and insightful scenes, I found myself thinking the narrative itself could have used more complexity. Having said this, the simplistic plot helps the viewer to focus more on depth of the characters and important themes of the film.

Rating: 3.5/5

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