Kristin Wiig plays Maggie, a dental assistant who lives in upstate New York with the kindly if clueless Lance (Luke Wilson), while fellow SNL
alum Bill Hader plays Milo, a gay actor who moved to Los Angeles 10 years earlier. Since his agent dropped him, Milo has been working as a waiter. When a breakup sends him over the edge and into the hospital with slashed wrists, Maggie grudgingly invites him to stay with her and Lance. If Wiig and Hader don't look much like siblings, they bring the same hard-to-fake rapport that made their turn as a married couple in Greg Mottola's underappreciated Adventureland
such fun. And there's fun to be had in The Skeleton Twins
, but it floats around the edges of the frame, in the biting dialogue the sarcastic siblings use to hide their pain and the goofy moments they share when not stewing over old grievances. And make no mistake: This is a film about old grievances. As a teenager, Milo entered into a liaison that made him grow up fast, which can be good for some, but it has infected every relationship he's had since. As for Maggie, she has been keeping a significant secret from Lance throughout their marriage. Instead of telling him and working something out, she sublimates her frustration in an affair with her hunky scuba instructor (Boyd Holbrook). If anything, Maggie represents Wiig's least sympathetic character to date, and proves she's ready to go over to the Dark Side if some enterprising director will give her the chance. But the real revelation is Ty Burrell, who has won Emmys for his sitcom work. His teacher-turned-bookstore-proprietor Rich, about whom I don't want to give too much away, is a decidedly non-comic creation. For all the secrets Maggie and Milo have been keeping from each other, at least they're trying to be true to themselves, but Rich has been living the kind of lie that destroys lives. It's one of those small, subtle performances that evade award recognition, but it's the messy core of this deceptively tidy film.
by Kathy Fennessy