A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
As I’m writing this review of “The Skeleton Twins,” I have Starship’s sparkly, glossy pop tune “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” stuck in my head. It’s probably stuck in yours now, too, and for that, I sincerely apologize.
Originally the theme to the 1987 romantic comedy “Mannequin,” this relentlessly optimistic No. 1 hit makes a crucial appearance in a very different way in “The Skeleton Twins.” But before you cringe at the very prospect of hearing it again, just hear me out. Director and co-writer Craig Johnson uses the song so surprisingly and beautifully, you actually won’t mind. Actually, you'll have an enormous smile on your face.
It’s one of many examples of how Johnson and co-writer Mark Heyman take clichéd notions, upend them, breathe fresh life into them and make them feel excitingly new. That Starship song comes in the form of a spirited lip-sync between Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, who co-star as estranged twins fumbling to reconnect. They also get high together–a classic shorthand for breaking the ice and bonding in films–and they dress up in drag for Halloween.
We’ve seen countless uses of these devices and too often they seem wacky, forced and flat. In “The Skeleton Twins,” an off-kilter sense of humor, as well as a pervasive feeling of loneliness and regret, provides a more complex and far more human vibe.