The Skeleton Twins

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Skeleton Twins Movie Poster Image
Irreverent, mature, deeply affecting drama about siblings.
  • R
  • 2014
  • 91 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Even the darkest of nights leads to a brighter morning: Both main characters are sometimes felled by deep pain that comes from a very troubled childhood, but their will sustains them. Also, when you think you can't turn to anyone at all, there's always family -- at least in their case.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Maggie and Milo won't win any awards for stability, but they're quick-witted and empathetic and willing to look at themselves unflinchingly. They also care very deeply for each other. Maggie's husband, Lance, is very good-natured and thinks the best of others.

Violence

Viewers don't see Milo cut himself in the beginning, but it's implied, and the sight of water turning blood-red is disturbing. Later, characters are shown teetering on the edge of a building, as if about to jump, and trying other means of killing themselves, including drowning. One character was molested by a teacher in high school, and this is discussed with much pain, anger, and confusion. Milo and Maggie get into a brutal shouting match.

Sex

A man and a woman are shown kissing passionately and, later, up against a wall, presumably having sex, though no sensitive body parts are shown. There's an open discussion about sex. Two men are shown in bed on what appears to be the morning after they slept together; one is getting dressed, and the other is still under covers, shoulders and chest bared. A man talks in raw terms about how he needs sex.

Language

Pretty salty, including "a---hole," "damn," "c--k," "bulls--t," "p---y," and "f--k." Also, the word "retarded" is used pejoratively. A child flashes his mom the finger.

Consumerism

An Apple computer is seen, as is an iPhone. Also, Coors beer.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink beer and hard liquor (sometimes to the point of destructive inebriation) and get high on nitrous.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although The Skeleton Twins stars two actors best known for their comedic talents (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig), it's an insightful, moving, mature drama that dissects and distils the magic and mayhem of sibling relationships -- especially those who grew up in a dysfunctional and difficult household. Expect plenty of intense scenes that show characters attempting suicide (in one case, a man gets into a tub with water that slowly turns red), lots of swearing (including "f--k" and more), simulated sex (a man and a woman are shown coupling up against a wall, and two men wake up on the morning after their own encounter), drinking (sometimes to destructive inebriation), and a complex storyline involving an adult who was molested and taken advantage of by a teacher but still wants contact with that person.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymarn22 September 13, 2014

TERRIBLE

NOT FOR KIDS so much cursin
Adult Written byPhoebe W. July 9, 2017

Depth & Range of Performances are Unexpectedly Excellent & Poignant

Since my review is long, and the final onscreen version of my write-up omits my line spacing for paragraph breaks, I am designating the separation of paragraphs... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byB-KMastah September 19, 2014

Realistic, funny, and thoroughly enjoyable.

So we probably all know how likable and adorable Kristen Wiig is, but Bill Hader? Holy crap. I would have never expected him to be this good. He and Wiig play o... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byirontap June 24, 2015

What's the story?

Milo (Bill Hader), an actor who's mostly making a living as a waiter in Los Angeles, has had enough of life's failures. So he scribbles a note (to no one in particular, just "to whom it may concern"), runs a bath, and slits his wrist. Unbeknownst to him, his sister, Maggie (Kristen Wiig), a dental hygienist with whom has hasn't been in contact for a decade, is contemplating a similar fate on the opposite coast. But she's stopped by a call informing her that Milo has been hospitalized, alive but unwell. When she invites Milo to visit her and her husband, Lance (Luke Wilson), whom Milo has never even met, in the town they both grew up in, he reluctantly accepts. It's a chance to reassess his life and repair deep hurts. The same goes for Maggie, but both of them may be far more scarred than they ever knew.

Is it any good?

In many ways, this impactful drama treads a path previously traveled by many other brilliant movies, including You Can Count On Me and the outstanding The Savages. But The Skeleton Twins also forges new ground by pushing the envelope both in humor (there's no issue too dark to mine for absurdity or wit) and sadness (nothing hurts more than the truth). The dialogue cuts like a knife, it's so sharp; it also makes you bleed with its honesty. And it refreshingly feels no need to explain every reference or fill in every gap, trusting the audience to be intelligent and intuitive enough to get it. At times it glosses over one too many things -- the reason for Milo and Maggie's 10-year estrangement is dismissed with a quick "we don't have to talk about it" -- and makes too easy of fun of Lance and those who aren't as complex as Milo and Maggie. Still, with so many other reasons to love it, The Skeleton Twins won't be forgotten anytime soon. 

On Saturday Night Live, Hader and Wiig almost seemed as if they could read each other's minds whenever they shared the screen. They were so in tune that you could almost describe their partnership as a mind meld. Ditto in THE SKELETON TWINS, a major coup of a movie that allows them to explore their range -- the verdict: wide and deep -- and tell a propelling and profoundly stirring story at the same time.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Skeleton Twins handles the subject of suicide. Does it show what the impact is of that act/decision? How do characters come to terms with those kinds of feelings?

  • Another challenging subject brought up in the film is how a teacher crosses boundaries with a student and how this type of relationship can be confusing and devastating. Parents, talk to your kids about how to identify any inappropriate advances and ways to handle that kind of situation.

  • Are Maggie and Milo more alike or different? What do they share, and how would you characterize their relationship?

  • What role does drinking play in the movie? Are the consequences realistic?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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