Follow TV Tropes


Film / The Skeleton Twins

Go To

The Skeleton Twins is a 2014 dramedy film by writer/director Craig Johnson. It stars Saturday Night Live alumni Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, as well as Luke Wilson and Ty Burrell.

Hader and Wiig play twins Milo and Maggie Dean, who have come together for the first time in years after both of them attempt suicide. Together, they confront their problems and what led to these events.

This film contains examples of:

  • Armor-Piercing Question: Maggie and Milo's mother, Judy, insists her kids don't need to be invited to her home in Arizona, and that they'd be perfectly welcome if they just showed up unannounced. Seeing through her mother's excuse, Maggie asks if they can show up the following week, or the next. Judy hastily tries to make excuses as to why those weeks won't work.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: Maggie and Milo dish these out to each other in a fight right after Maggie's husband leaves her due to Milo's meddling. Ultimately, Maggie gives the more painful response of the two:
    Milo: You're emotionally unstable.
    Maggie: You're a prick.
    Milo: You need professional help.
    Maggie: [scoffs] Oh, and this from someone who just tried to kill himself.
    Milo: Maybe I should try fucking all my problems away.
    Maggie: Well maybe next time, you should cut deeper!
    [Milo doesn't say anything, but this has clearly hurt him]
  • All Gays are Promiscuous: Played with where Milo's concerned.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Taken to a heartbreaking extreme with Maggie, who compulsively cheats on her husband Lance.
  • Bath Suicide: How Milo tries to kill himself at the start of the movie.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Just as Maggie starts to drown, Milo comes to the rescue.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Milo saves Maggie from her attempted suicide, and they appear to be working together to fix their lives, but as far as the audience is concerned, Maggie's marriage is over.
  • Black Comedy
  • Contraception Deception: Maggie is secretly taking birth control pills to prevent having a child with her husband Lance to the point where he thinks he's infertile. He finds out about the pills — and her infidelity — later on.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Both the Dean twins, but especially Milo.
  • Disappeared Dad: Milo and Maggie's dad committed suicide by throwing himself off a bridge.
  • Driven to Suicide: Both Maggie and Milo, as well as their dad. But averted, finally, with Maggie and Milo.
  • Elemental Motifs: Water is a recurring theme in the movie.
    • The movie opens with Maggie's toy skeleton being dropped in a pool.
    • Milo's pet goldfish. Maggie gets him new ones but forgets about them. The movie ends with Milo and Maggie looking at a new aquarium.
    • Maggie takes scuba diving lessons and is having an affair with the instructor.
    • Milo and Maggie both attempt suicide in a bathroom.
    • Milo and Maggie's father jumped off a bridge.
    • The whale trinket which Rich gave Milo in high school. Moby Dick is also discussed.
    • Maggie tries to commit suicide by jumping into a pool with weights attached to herself.
    • We get a quick flashback of Milo and Maggie at the pool, as kids.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Seems to be the case at first: Milo is an aspiring actor working a dead-end job, whose only relationship is with a bottle, while Maggie has a stable job as a dental hygienist, and is married. Turns out, however, that there is a lot more than meets the eye.
  • Hereditary Suicide: The Movie. Milo and Maggie's father died by suicide after jumping off a bridge. The movie begins with Milo and Maggie both separately attempting suicide. It then ends with Milo saving Maggie after she attempts suicide a second time, which leads them both on some sort of path, it seems, towards working out their issues.
  • Hot for Teacher: Teenage Milo for Rich, and still a little bit in the present.
  • Insecure Love Interest: At one point, Maggie tells Milo that she thinks that Lance is too good for her.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Maggie's attempt at the start is stopped by a phone call from the hospital. She tries again later in the film.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The movie starts off with Maggie and Milo as kids on Halloween and their father giving them toy skeletons.
  • Mommy Didn't Show: Maggie and Milo's mother never showed up at Maggie's wedding.
  • Nice Guy: Lance, as opposed to all the assholes that Maggie is used to dating.
  • Oh, Crap!: Maggie when Lance confronts her with the birth control pills she’s been hiding.
  • Old Flame Fizzle: Milo reunites with his old English teacher Rich and tries to restart their affair. It doesn't work out.
  • Rape as Backstory: It's eventually revealed that Rich (an adult teacher) had sex with Milo when he was 15 years old, but his family didn't press charges.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Maggie gives one to her mother, regarding the latter's selfish behavior. Later on, she also gives one to Milo when she figures out that he's seeing Rich again, only for Milo to turn it around on her after her husband finds out about the birth control pills.
  • Stepford Smiler: Maggie.
  • Slut-Shaming: Maggie does this to herself. Also present in a throwaway line from a high school acquaintance.
  • Straight Gay/ Camp Gay: Milo toes the line between the two. His speech does have a slight gay lisp to it and his clothing is a little stereotypical. His penchant for drag plays up an obvious stereotype.
    • Rich, his former teacher and fling plays the Straight Gay Straight. Though, given that Rich seems to be involved with adult women otherwise, he may be bisexual or just an opportunistic sexual predator.
  • Suicide by Pills: Maggie is introduced holding a handful of pills over her bathroom sink, heavily implying she was about to kill herself when she gets a call informing her that her brother Milo has attempted suicide.
  • Twins Are Special: Downplayed. The film starts with Maggie standing over her bathroom sink, holding a fistful of pills seemingly preparing to commit Suicide by Pills. She is only stopped when she receives a phone call from the hospital informing her that brother Milo, who she hasn't spoken to in years, was there because he tried to commit suicide, too.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: Sydney Lucas plays a young Maggie.