August 26th, 2019

The Skeleton Twins ***1/2

Now Playing at the Savoy


On the list of things I’m truly thankful for in this life, my sister is near the top.

When I got divorced this year, I could have retreated into solitude and sorrow. But with the acceptance, support, and guidance of my little sister, I turned a potentially depressing situation into the happiest summer of my life.

We’ve certainly fought with each other both as children and as adults. But all of the fun we’ve had more than makes up for it.

There’s no one who understands me better than my sister. And even though we haven’t lived in the same state for 20 years, there’s still no one I’d rather go out dancing with.

I know that there are a lot of people who are merely casual acquaintances with their siblings. If you are one of the people who only sees your siblings on Christmas and at weddings, you should probably skip “The Skeleton Twins.” If you were out until 4:30 a.m. drinking and socializing with your sister last Saturday night like I was, this is the movie for you.

“The Skeleton Twins” stars former “Saturday Night Live” comedians Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. But don’t be fooled. This is not a comedy.

In the opening scene, Hader’s character Milo writes a suicide note addressed to “To who it may concern” and then slashes his wrists. And the movie generally gets more morbid and miserable from there.

While recovering from his wounds, Milo goes to live with his twin sister Maggie (Wiig) and her husband Lance (Luke Wilson) in upstate New York.

Even though they haven’t seen each other in years, Milo and Maggie reconnect with ease and joke around together like they are still kids.

But behind the laughter, there is a lot of dysfunction. Milo and Maggie are two very lonely 30-somethings.

Milo is a single gay man who foolishly tries to rekindle the flame with his first boyfriend: a former teacher who lost his job when he had an affair with Milo at age 15.

On the surface, Maggie is more well-adjusted than her brother. But she’s no closer to happiness. Kristen Wiig does a magnificent job of showing us the point of view of a disenchanted wife who we rarely see on screen.

Maggie has a nice normal house and a nice normal husband who wants to settle down and have a baby with her like normal people do. For most people, this is the definition of success and a recipe for contentment. But for a weirdo like Maggie, normalcy makes her feel isolated, confused, and trapped.

“The Skeleton Twins” is emotional, quietly funny, and seriously gloomy. Lucky for Maggie and Milo they have each other, because they sure as heck don’t have much else.

I think that choosing to reproduce is one of the most incomprehensible things that a person can do. However, I’m truly grateful that my parents chose to reproduce twice.

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