The recent death of Robin Williams had me revisiting some of the great dramatic performances from comedic actors. It's always an unexpected discovery.
The recent death of Robin Williams had me revisiting some of the great dramatic performances from comedic actors. It’s always an unexpected discovery.
I remember how revelatory Adam Sandler’s turn in “Punch Drunk Love” seemed (though that didn’t go far, huh?). Or Jim Carrey in “The Truman Show.” Or really Jim Carrey in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”
So when you see that “The Skeleton Twins” stars two of the funniest SNL alumni of the past decade (Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader), you might be expecting a comedy. You won’t get what you expect, but you may get something better.
“The Skeleton Twins” opens with Milo (Hader) methodically taking care of some last details before he slits his wrists in the bathtub.
Elsewhere, his estranged twin sister Maggie (Wiig) is — by either a strange coincidence or twin telepathy — about to gobble down a handful of pills. Her own suicide attempt is interrupted by a phone call from the hospital alerting her that Milo is recovering there.
Their years of separation come to an end as Milo comes to live with Maggie and her puppy-dog-cheerful husband Lance (Luke Wilson). Maggie and Lance are purportedly trying to get pregnant, but the possibility of motherhood is what drove Maggie to depression in the first place. Meanwhile, a former lover of Milo’s (Ty Burrell) comes back into his life.
Director Craig Johnson and his co-writer Mark Heyman navigate some tricky waters. The film isn’t without some dramatic flaws, but the arching story of the siblings overcomes some problems with their tangential stories.
“Skeleton Twins” is obviously not light fare, but the tragedy is flavored with some warm comedy. We knew Wiig and Hader were good at the latter; they’re both revelations in the former.
Wiig has shown flashes of dramatic chops but makes a real leap here. Maggie’s depression fuels some not-nice behaviors, and Wiig captures the malaise in a way that still makes her sympathetic.
Hader is just as good. It’s tough enough for a comedic actor to play gay without going over-the-top camp — and this is the man responsible for SNL’s club kid Stefon. But he’s got his own thread of tragedies at work.
Bottom line: “Skeleton Twins” is a lo-fi dramedy worth seeing for the performances alone.