“Skeleton Twins” — A Second Chance

 

[Guest blogger Anthony Berteaux is a sophomore at San Diego State University majoring in drama and journalism. He writes a column for The Daily Aztec, (an independent campus newspaper) and his most recent article is “Die-in Protests Fuel the Fire”.]

Skeleton Twins

 

The best kinds of love stories are the ones that aren’t romantic and some can hit a nerve. In a culture of Nicholas Sparks, it is easy to forget that love stories aren’t just limited to romantic relationships, but encompass any authentic and special bond with someone else, whether it is a pet, a cousin or a friend.   The most powerful love stories can be the ones we share with family.

This is where the “Skeleton Twins”, directed by Craig Johnson and powerfully acted by former SNL regulars Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, succeeds in recognizing familial relationships may be the most complex and emotionally resonant stories we can tell.

Wiig and Hader play Maggie and Milo, estranged twins, who begin living together after Milo attempts suicide.  Maggie is his only personal contact. Milo is a struggling gay actor and Maggie feels trapped in a happy marriage. They’re both cynical, somber and suicidal and it becomes clearer as the movie progresses that these twins are equally lost but need each other. They’ve spent ten years apart, but their struggles are analogous.

There’s a plot involving Maggie’s husband, a previous family suicide, Milo’s romantic past, and the siblings’ broken relationships with their parents. While Hader and Wiig look nothing like twins, there’s a chemistry there that isn’t just limited to comedy. They’re a tag team, competing and feeding off each other’s energies without being overwhelmed by the other.

This is a comedic movie, however, that doesn’t negate the very dark tone that comes with a theme like suicide. If you’re looking for a light comedy, this isn’t it.  This film reveals a dark sense of humor, not the type that we usually associate with Hader and Wiig. Again, it’s fascinating to witness the evolution of Hader, who pulls off dramatic even better than he does comedic roles. Perhaps, what the world lost in the genius Robin Williams, we can regain in some form in the gifts of Wiig and Hader.

“Skeleton Twins” is a truly honest potrayal of a powerful love shared between siblings. They are tethered by something larger than themselves. They may fight and bicker, but in the end, love prevails. The film demonstrates blood is thicker than water, for better and for worse.

 

 

“Bridesmaids”–Maid of Dishonor, Never the Bride

This is a female version of “Hangover” but much, much better. “Bridesmaids”, the new movie produced by Judd Apatow of “40 Year Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up” fame, has crisp, brilliant comic writing by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo together with superb comedic timing by Wiig, Maya Rudolph and a perfectly cast team of supporting actresses –a hilarious, knockout performance by Melissa McCarthy especially. McCarthy dominates every scene she’s in with her over-the-top sexual and verbal attacks. For women who enjoy a “girls night out” to roar with snort-laughs that make you cry, and for all men who also enjoy raunchy unexpected gross-out scenes from some of the most talented comediennes today, this movie is for you!

Wiig plays Annie, who has not had much luck –in her love life, her work, her roommates, with her mother or her friends…except for her best friend from childhood, Lillian (delectably played by the winning Maya Rudolph.) The story is a rather simple one rehashed many times before –“girl rivalry”. This time it is the “new girl in town”–Helen (played to perfection by Rose Byrne) who represents change for Annie in terms of who she is and how she identifies herself with relation to her best friend. Comedy and pathos touchingly intermingle as we cringe to see Annie, Lillian’s designated maid of honor, try to compete on unfamiliar turf with Helen: couturier dress selection, fine dining, one-upmanship in gifts, to name only a few of the most hilarious, but also fiercely moving, scenes. The sweet Irish charm of a smitten cop (an endearing role by Chris O’Dowd), only underscores how hurt and out of control Annie really is.

I thought “Bridesmaids” would be silly, maybe even stupid, but the script proved to be brilliant in the most unexpected moments. The screenwriters were astute in not playing only for laughs. The opening sex scene with Kristen Wiig and a wonderfully clueless cad (Jon Hamm) was enough to put this viewer securely on Wiig’s side of the story for the rest of the film, while simultaneously laughing so hard tears rolled down my cheeks so I consequently missed the next set of zingers. Will have to watch this movie a second time to get the full dialogue! The incredibly fast pace of slicing morsels of humor is extraordinary!

This movie is not for everyone. It has vulgar, physical comedy that doesn’t appeal to anyone who cannot channel their “inner teenage self”. However, if you want to see a comedy that heals wounds while making you laugh and watch Kristen Wiig give the performance of her lifetime, then make sure you see this movie. Her brilliant comic talent (and writing) needs to be in more challenging venues than her current long-time gig on “Saturday Night Live”. It’s time for her to move on…to more creative adventures following her debut in this comic gem!