The Skeleton Twins

(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The Movie: The Skeleton Twins

Where You Can Stream It: Hulu and Amazon Prime

The Pitch: After ten years of estrangement, twins Maggie (Kristen Wiig) and Milo (Bill Hader) coincidentally cheat death on the same day, prompting them to reunite and confront how their lives went so wrong. As the twins’ reunion reinvigorates them both, they realize that the key to fixing their lives just may lie in repairing their own relationship with each other.

Why It’s Essential Viewing: In 2014, Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig had only been away from Saturday Night Live for a year or two. Wiig had already found big screen stardom thanks to Bridesmaids, and Hader was on his way thanks to some memorable supporting roles. But the two got a chance to showcase their versatility thanks to the Sundance selected indie The Skeleton Twins, a film that allowed the duo to tap into their comedic skills while effectively stretching their dramatic chops. Though the story follows a familiar festival film formula, it’s still emotionally engaging and delightfully entertaining.

The Skeleton Twins taps into the Sundance trope of following thirtysomethings who have no direction in their life, each barely hanging on by a thread, resenting each other for something in their past. But soon they figure out that what they really need is each other in order to get over this seemingly insurmountable hump in their life. It might take some more missteps for them to figure it out, and that’s what we get to see as they get their own coming-of-age kind of story.

These kind of movies can be hit or miss, but thanks to a pair of grounded performances from Wiig and Hader, the movie feels instantly relatable. It’s a taste of the incredible performances to come from each of them in the years that would follow. There’s restraint in the comedic side of their performance. Various scenes could have easily been dominated by brilliant improvised one-liners, the kind that you see with extensive outtakes in Judd Apatow movies. While Hader and Wiig undoubtedly threw some of those gags around on set, director Craig Johnson knew to keep them firmly in check, putting more attention on the dramatic side of their performance. But at the same time,it never feels like you’re just watching comedians who are desperately trying to show that they can act. It all feels natural, and that’s largely because of the chemistry that Hader and Wiig built at Saturday Night Live.

That’s not to say this movie isn’t funny though. For every moment of sadness or depression, there are still dry, and occasionally dark jokes. Even the most memorable part of this movie, a stellar lip sync sequence that brings the brother and sister together after a disagreement, isn’t as flashy as it could have been, and it’s instead made to feel like an intimate inside gag between the siblings. Watch it below, and then go watch this fantastic indie gem.

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