Follow us on

Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: The Skeleton Twins

December 16th, 2014

The Skeleton Twins - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

The Skeleton Twins is the fifth film I reviewed this week and it is the only one that earned impressive reviews. This does raise expectations, but is that a mistake? Or does this film truly deserve the critical praise it has received?

The Movie

The film begins with the titular twins as kids and a voice-over by Maggie that she and her brother, Milo, were as close as siblings could be. She ends the voice-over questioning how they could have drifted so far apart. When we first see the now adult Milo, he's in rough shape. He's trying to write a suicide note, but is struggling to think of someone to address it to. Afterwards, he gets drunk and slits his wrists. We then switch to Maggie, who is standing in a bathroom with a handful of pills contemplating her own suicide. Before she can do it, she gets a call from the hospital telling her about Milo's suicide attempt.

Maggie travels to L.A. to be with Milo, but it is not exactly a happy reunion. Maggie does invite Milo to stay with her and her husband in New York. He's not exactly excited about the idea, especially since Maggie and her husband still live in the town they grew up in. There are some bad memories for Milo there. Maggie's husband, Lance, is very outgoing and friendly. At dinner, he mentioned he and Maggie are trying to have a kid, which is odd, because Maggie never wanted to have kids. While going for a walk, Milo sees a man, Rich, working in a bookstore. It's clear right away that these two have a history, one Rich doesn't want to revisit. We also see Maggie with her scuba instructor, Billy, and it is clear there's more than scuba lessons going on there.

Things take a turn for the worse for the siblings when their mother, Judy, comes for a visit. Judy isn't the nurturing type and doesn't really want to spend a lot of time with her kids. This is part of the reason Maggie never wanted kids. In fact, when Judy leaves, we see Maggie is secretly taking birth control pills.

I think this is a good place to stop the plot summary. We've set up the pieces, but how they fall apart is too deep into spoiler territory. And things do fall apart. The Skeleton Twins is a movie about dysfunctional relationships with the two lead characters involved in multiple such relationships, including with each other. The movie does boast a lot of excellent performances by the two leads and the supporting cast. Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader are not normally known for dramatic roles, but this movie proves they can handle quiet, dramatic character moments just as well as they can handle broad humor. On the down side... the film is a downer. There's not enough lighter moments to help the drama, so it isn't an easy movie to watch. At least the film doesn't go for a light, schmaltzy ending, which would have been too much of a deviation from the rest of the movie.

The Extras

Extras on the DVD and Blu-ray begin with two audio commentary tracks. The first is with the direct / co-writer, Craig Johnson, and the two leads, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. In the second one, Craig Johnson is joined by his co-writer, Mark Heyman, as well as the co-producer / editor, Jennifer Lee. Up next is a 15-minute long making of featurette. There are also a gag reel and some outtakes. I thought those were the same thing. There is also a 90-second montage of people dancing behind-the-scenes. Finally, there are 16 minutes of deleted scenes, with optional audio commentary. That's a lot of extras for a limited release.

The technical presentation is good, but not great. It is a lower budget film and you can't compare it to high-budget Hollywood blockbusters. There are no real flaws with the video, but it is a little softer than the usual and the colors are, while not lifeless, not as vivid either. It is partially explained by budget, but aesthetic choices have an effect here as well. The subject matter isn't bright and cheerful, so the filmmakers made sure the film itself wasn't bright and cheerful. The audio is clear, but uncomplicated. The dialog is always clear, but dominates the front and center speakers and there is very little activity in the surround sound speakers. If this were an action film, this would be a serious problem, but for a dialog-driven drama, this is in many ways ideal.

At the moment, the Blu-ray is $15, which is only $1 more than the DVD. That's an excellent deal.

The Verdict

The Skeleton Twins isn't the usual fun comedy one is used to from Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, but they show that they can handle character-driven drama just as well as they can handle comedy. The film is absolutely worth checking out. Additionally, the DVD and Blu-ray have more than enough extras to make it worth picking up. In fact, it is a clear contender for Pick of the Week.

- Submitted by:

Filed under: Video Review, The Skeleton Twins, Ty Burrell, Joanna Gleason, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Luke Wilson, Mark Heyman, Boyd Holbrook, Jennifer Lee, Craig Johnson