Fall normally bring about some wondrous things. Leaves change color. The countdown to the holiday season begins. And, thankfully, the movies tend to get better.
Gone are the explosions, insipid dialogue and the sequelitis that have become mainstays of the summer movie season.
This time of year movie fans get plots, intelligence and, well, actual acting. And watching The Skeleton Twins is akin to walking in to a well air conditioned home after sitting in hot, sticky weather for hours.
The reason is that little thing called acting – performances that come from two unlikely sources – Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader – two comedic refugees from Saturday Night Live best known for comedic work.
Their performances as siblings in Twins should put them in the realm of actors with range and substance – those who can plop themselves into a role and just live it.
They come alive all too well in this dramedy directed by Craig Johnson who co-wrote with Mark Heyman. Milo (Hader) and Maggie (Wiig) are emotionally broken. Perhaps emotionally crushed is a better term.
How do we meet them? Milo’s just slit his wrists and cranked his tunes and lowered himself into a bathtub. Maggie is about to pop a handful of pills just when her iPhone rings. It’s a Los Angeles area hospital explaining to her what Milo’s done. Needless to say she’s given pause and she races westward from Newark, N.J.
Given that they’ve not spoken in 10 years, that initial “Hey, bro, how you doin’’ meeting is a wee bit awkward, but Maggie, feeling familial obligation, asks Milo to come home with her. Needless to say her life is a maelstrom.
She’s married to the nicest – and possibly most naïve – guy possible named Lance (Luke Wilson), who possesses an aw-shucks attitude and loves Maggie unconditionally. Apparently, they’re working on starting a family despite the fact that she isn’t sure she wants to be a mother, a fact that could stem from the fact that the sibs’ mother pretty much checked out after their father committed suicide by jumping off a local bridge.
Milo must contend with a past that includes an affair with a former teacher (Ty Burrell) that turned into a local scandal and the associated baggage. Yes, this is some depressing stuff.
However, Johnson, somehow, some way manages to strike the right balance between the drama – those real moments between family – and the lighter moments that we all remember having with members of our own families.
Not much rings false in Twins except for the ending. Hader and Wiig are virtually unrecognizable from their comedic personas. They possess uncanny chemistry and one of their scenes rivals a similar one performed by Jon Cryer in Pretty in Pink. They make the moment.
That’s just one of many that makes The Skeleton Twins worthy of time and hard-earned cash.
Movie: The Skeleton Twins
Director: Craig Johnson
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Luke Wilson
Studio: Roadside Attractions
Rated: R for language, some sexuality and drug use
Running time: 93 minutes
George’s rating: 3.5-of-4 stars
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com