Posts Tagged ‘The Skeleton Twins’

ADULT BEGINNERS: 2 ½ STARS. “shop worn plot points and a predictable conclusion.”

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 4.13.32 PM“Adult Beginners” is cut from the same cloth as the recently released “The Skeleton Twins.” It’s another brother-returns-to-his-suburban-New-York-state-hometown-to-confront-his-estranged-family-and-his-past-while-forging-a-future movie starring people known for comedy—Nick Kroll and Rose Byrne—but who don’t play up the laughs.

Kroll is Jake, a New York City entrepreneur who went broke and bankrupted several friend in a failed high tech manufacturing scheme. Penniless and friendless—“I’ve changed your name in my phone to ‘life ruiner,’” says one former investor—he retreats to his hometown, the sleepy New Rochelle.

Sister Justine (Byrne) and her husband Danny (Bobby Cannavale) reluctantly allow him to move in but just for three months and only if he’ll play nanny to Teddy (Caleb and Matthew Paddock), his three-year-old nephew. “I wish you came to visit because you were happy,” says Justine.

At first Jake is ill equipped to deal with the youngster but soon finds being a caregiver comes naturally to him. What is more difficult is finding happy and smooth relationships with Justine, who harbours some resentment from the past and Danny who has a damaging secret.

Both “Adult Beginners” and “The Skeleton Twins” chronicle unhappy thirtysomethings who parade their dysfunction for the cameras. Jake is a self-absorbed jerk, Justine drinks while pregnant and Danny looks for love in all the wrong places. Depending on your point of view they’re either awful people, or, if you are director Ross Katz, you see them as tragic characters who are a product of their pasts. The truth is probably somewhere in between and whatever side you fall on will determine your enjoyment of the movie. One thing is for sure, no one on display is terribly happy.

Of the leads Bryne and Kroll milk the drama and the comedy from the script, but a predictable story arc sucks much of the life out of Canavale’s storyline. He’s an agreeable and welcome presence, but feels extraneous.

“Adult Beginners” has good, appealing performers, but shop worn plot points and a predictable conclusion mar what might have been an insightful look at troubled a troubled generation.

THE SKELETON TWINS: 3 ½ STARS. “features breakthrough performances from its leads”

theskeletontwins1The offspring of “Saturday Night Live” have provided highs and lows in terms of the movie going experience. On the upside there is “Wayne’s World,” a very funny comedy about a suburban headbanger and his best friend. Less successful was Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin as Beldar and Prymaat Clorhone in “Coneheads.”

Then there is another category of “SNL” movies. The ones like “The Skeleton Twins,” films that just happen to feature former stars of the show.

Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader are Maggie and Milo, twins who haven’t spoken in ten years. The product of a troubled upbringing, she still lives in their upstate New York hometown, he in Los Angeles where he pursues a career in acting while waiting tables at a Hollywood tourist trap.

When Milo survives a suicide attempt Maggie invites him to recuperate at her home. Her husband Lance (Luke Wilson) welcomes him, but Milo’s presence in town brings up old, disturbing feelings for his ex-boyfriend Rich (Ty Burrell) and Maggie who is still troubled by the past.

Unlike Aykroyd and Curtain in “Coneheads,” Wiig and Hader are revelations in “The Skeleton Twins.” The movie is a parade of dysfunction, but the performances from these two actors are nuanced and delicate. Both are famous for making people laugh—Wiig has several dramas on her resume like “Girl Most Likely,” but is best known on the big screen for “Bridesmaids”—but both stretch here, becoming dramatic actors who know how to deliver a funny line.

Despite its downbeat tone the script (co-written by Mark Heyman and director Craig Johnson) is packed with laughs, most of which are situational and massaged out of the material by Wiig and Hader.

Luke Wilson and Joanna Gleason are also noteworthy. He’s the sweet but dim-witted “big Labrador Retriever” of a man, and brings some down-to-earth humanity to a movie about people searching to find their humanity. Gleason is terrific as the world’s worst mother, a self-centered woman who presence dredges up old, bad memories.

“The Skeleton Twins” is an interesting and funny character study for much of its 93 minute running time, but the ending feels almost as if the production ran out of money and shut down before they figured out a satisfactory conclusion. Its as if someone simply flicked off the story switch before the narrative was quite done.

Despite a rushed ending, “The Skeleton Twins” features breakthrough performances from its leads that are worth a look.