Most people are probably most familiar with Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig from the multitude of comedies they’ve been in, as well as their long stints as castmembers on “Saturday Night Live,” where they’ve perhaps been the best part of the show’s continuing dry spell. Given their previous projects, their names are probably not the first you would think of for a heavy dramedy such as “The Skeleton Twins,” but as we’ve seen with other comedians in the past (Bill Murray, Jim Carrey, etc.), sometimes they can surprise you with their talents when it comes to more serious material.
The film tells the story of two siblings, Milo (Hader) and Maggie (Wiig), who have not seen each other in ten years. As the story begins, Milo attempts suicide, causing the hospital to contact his sister, who happened to be on the verge of committing suicide herself. She comes to visit him and suggests that he come back with her to New York to stay with her and her husband, Lance (Luke Wilson), for a while until he feels better. Accepting the offer, he joins them and tries to get used to life in the small town. Milo, who is a homosexual, also uses his time to reconnect with a teacher (Ty Burrell) that he once had a relationship with several years ago, a relationship that caused a lot of pain for the family at the time. At the same time, we also discover that Maggie is going through several problematic situations, including being unsure about having a baby (she tells Lance she wants to, but is secretly taking birth control) and making out with her scuba diving instructor (Boyd Holbrook). All the while, Milo and Maggie slowly start to reconnect after their decade of silence.
At first glance, it may seem like this is a lot to cram into a movie that runs just under 90 minutes, but surprisingly each and every plot thread is given its due and developed accordingly. What forms is a story that offers a lot of drama balanced out with a dark sense of humor that makes for a heavy-hitting, but amusing tale of two siblings with lots of issues. The humor here is not necessarily the kind that’s going to make you laugh out loud, though there are parts that will give you a little chuckle, but it doesn’t stop that element of the film from being just as effective as the dramatic material.
The main reason it works so well in the first place, aside from a script by Mark Heyman and Craig Johnson that deftly blends the two genres together, are the outstanding performances from Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, whose expertise in comedy helps them bring out the darker nature of it here, in addition to being able to tackle the heavier elements of the story with equal skill. It’s not every comedian who can tackle both, let alone in the same film, but these two were certainly up to the task, getting the audience emotionally involved, while also delivering some laughs along the way. Their performances (along with supporting roles from Luke Wilson and Ty Burrell) and the engaging nature of the story make this a dramedy that works well in both genres, delivering each in just the right proportions to leave the viewer heartily satisfied and happy to have had the experience.
“The Skeleton Twins” comes to Blu-ray in a 2.40:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of excellent quality. There’s a slight fuzziness to some scenes, but it’s the kind you really have to look for to notice. Otherwise, you are treated to a sharp and clear picture that looks fantastic throughout the presentation. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is equally splendid, giving you all sound elements from dialogue to score in superb quality. It should be noted that this is the kind of audio track where a little volume goes a long way, so you don’t even need to have it up as much as usual to be able to hear everything. Overall, the film has been given top-notch treatment that makes for a marvelous experience.
Feature Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Craig Johnson, Kristen Wiig, and Bill Hader: An interesting commentary that has the director and stars discussing their experiences working on the film. It’s definitely worth listening to, especially if you’re looking for a good laugh.
Feature Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Craig Johnson, Co-Writer Mark Heyman, and Producer/Editor Jennifer Lee: Another intriguing commentary track that focuses more on the story and the making of the film. It’s also worth listening to, especially if you’re looking to learn more about how the film came together.
To Whom It May Concern: Making The Skeleton Twins: A 15-minute featurette that takes a look behind the scenes of the film, featuring interviews with cast and crew who discuss various topics from story to the cast. It does start to fall into the pointless area of the interviewees praising the cast, but overall it’s pretty informative.
Gag Reel and Outtakes: A gag reel that is really funny, plus a few outtakes from improv sessions that are a little hit and miss.
Deleted Scenes: A large selection of deleted scenes that are interesting to watch, but it’s pretty easy to see why they were left out as they don’t add much to the film.
Sweet Moves: A completely pointless inclusion that just has the cast and crew dancing.
“The Skeleton Twins” is a deft blend of drama and humor that features two great performances from Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig. Their ability to portray both the serious material and the dark-natured comedy shows their great skill for both genres, as well as their expertise when it comes to improv. Along with a well-written screenplay that manages to weave together a number of storylines, “The Skeleton Twins” makes for an engaging film that gets you emotionally involved, while also giving you some good laughs in the process, and for that intelligent mixture, it’s a dramedy that’s definitely worth seeing.