Cinetopia Reviews: The Skeleton Twins

Greg's review of The Skeleton Twins is here. Find out what he thought!

"I'm sorrryyy, okay. I didn't
meaaan to fall asleep while you
were driving.....geez!"

Clearly influenced by films like Little Miss Sunshine and Juno, as well as films by the Duplass Brothers (who produced the film), Craig Johnson’s The Skeleton Twins looks and feels every bit like the stereotypical Sundance film, but without the defined substance of a good one. It’s quirky, a little kitschy, very pleasing on the eyes, with actors who haven’t made it to the distinctive Brad Pitt level of fame yet and are trying to get there.

After ten years of no contact, twins Maggie (Kristin Wiig) and Milo (Bill Hader) are brought together under dire circumstances. She’s a bored housewife and he’s an unsuccessful actor. She brings him under her roof, and they start talking once again. After a night of drinking and laughing, one of them asks, “Why haven’t we spoken in ten years?” Leaving the theater, I wondered the exact same thing. For as close as they seemed to be and the readiness at which they shared very personal information, it seemed unlikely they would go ten years with little contact. I understand suspension of disbelief, but this didn’t quite hold water.

Most everything else I could understand. It’s interesting seeing how they were both emotionally scarred in different ways, yet ended up at the same point. I applaud the filmmakers for making a film about two different contemporary problems with bad outcomes that feel relevant, even if they’re portrayed in an almost joking manner. People don’t always seem to recognize how bad it can be to be bored and how far someone will go to change that. Sometimes it goes as far as adultery and sometimes it goes to near-suicide. While neither are the right way to go about things, this film presents them in a manner that makes sense.

"Okay. Who used the last
roll of toilet paper?"
Bill Hader’s performance as Milo falls becomes formulaic a few times. He plays the sassy gay guy who uses humor to deflect emotional wounds. He's an oddly specific character, yet he's one that has been becoming increasingly popular for whatever reason. Not every man that is gay acts the same way. Bill Hader does play this well though. Whatever scene he's in, he plays the part to a tee.

In fact, everyone around the cast does this. Kristin Wiig is equally hilarious when she has to be. Her character’s husband, Lance, is portrayed perfectly by Luke Wilson. I cannot remember the last movie I've seen him in, but I hope he takes more parts like this one. He nails it. A teacher Milo had an affair with when he was younger is played by Ty Burrell. Most of the more dramatic portions of the film have to do with his character, which I am very satisfied with. Yet, I'm not fond of his comedic performances in anything I’ve seen him in previously, especially Modern Family, so seeing him take this route in the film is definitely enjoyable.. 

It’s very competently crafted as Craig Johnson clearly understands how to use a camera. The cinematography from Reed Morano is very pleasing. The acting is competent to good. The writing is funny. The Skeleton Twins never rises beyond its material, but it’s not a bad way to spend 88 minutes. It's certainly more ambitious than Johnson’s first feature. This is a nice and comfortable step for him and everyone involved to take. I just hope the next one is a little broader. 

-Greg Dinskisk

The Cinetopia International Film Festival is an Ann Arbor and Detroit based film festival that took place from June 4th to the 8th where there were 110 screenings of about 50 films in 10 venues. Created for the people of southeastern Michigan, the Cinetopia International Film Festival features the best feature-length dramas, comedies, and documentaries from the world’s best film festivals (e.g. Sundance, Cannes, Venice, Toronto, Berlin, SXSW, Tribeca, etc.). The extensive festival program is selected exclusively for Cinetopia by a team that includes Indiewire Influencer Russ Collins (from the Michigan Theater) and the national “dean” of art house programming Elliot Wilhelm (from the Detroit Film Theatre). Cinetopia honors the rich heritage of cinematic culture and Michigan’s proud legacy of outstanding cinema artists through special pre- and post-film events, including presentations, discussion panels, and Q&A sessions with directors, writers, and stars.