The Skeleton Twins, film review: Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader star as estranged siblings in a comedy-drama

Directed by Craig Johnson and starring Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Ty Burrell

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The Independent Culture

There is the risk of a credibility gap when charismatic and successful stars play ultra- dysfunctional types. That’s why Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig never quite convince as Milo and Maggie, twins on the cusp of middle age. They haven’t seen each other for a decade but fate (in the shape of a failed suicide attempt) throws them back together.

Milo moves in with Maggie and her irrepressibly cheery husband Lance (Luke Wilson) in their suburban home. “I can’t wait to be the creepy gay uncle,” he tells them when Lance announces that he and Maggie are trying for babies.

The siblings’ youthful ambitions have dissipated. Now, their lives are simply a matter of “walking around trying not to be too disappointed”.

Wiig gives a soulful and very funny performance as the promiscuous, self-deluding Maggie, playing at happy families in spite of her own mounting misery. Hader is waspish and vulnerable by turns as Milo, a would-be famous actor tormented by events during his high-school years. The two leads, both Saturday Night Live veterans, show off their comic schtick, getting high on dentists’ gas in one scene and lip-synching to camp pop anthem “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” in another.

They capture the twins’ camaraderie (the sense that it’s them against the world) and their desperation, but it is hard to credit that two such witty, articulate people would have messed up their lives in quite the way that the twins have managed.