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Doubly Good

'SNL' stars shine in excellent 'Skeleton Twins'

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SIBLING REVIVAL Best known as comics, Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig get dramatic in Craig Johnson's new film.
  • SIBLING REVIVAL Best known as comics, Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig get dramatic in Craig Johnson's new film.

Craig Johnson's pretty-much-perfect The Skeleton Twins is about the reunion of a brother and sister. When they were young, their father committed suicide. Shortly afterward, their mother (Joanna Gleason) fled the wreckage to become a New Age charlatan in Sedona, Ariz.

Milo (Bill Hader) has just returned from Los Angeles for the first time in 10 years, hopelessly concealing his career as an actor-turned-waiter. Maggie (Kristen Wiig) is trying to keep a lid on her personal problems—mainly, a tendency to be a pushover for other men, even though she's married to the too-nice Lance (Luke Wilson), who's counting the days until she gets pregnant and he can become a dad.

The two lead performers have been on each other's wavelength for years on SNL. And director Johnson gives them luxurious amounts of time to show what they can do. Just as Wiig and Hader's rapport is marvelous to watch, it's surprising how much the cinematographer Reed Morano excels on what must be a low budget. The locations here are suffused with slight mist—it's Nyack, N.Y., sitting in for upstate, college-town New Hampshire. You have it both ways, enjoying the hundred little quaintnesses of the town, while registering the ambient disenchantment.

And Wiig is stunning. The small, wry mouth twists beautifully with embarrassment, drunkenness and remorse. No one now—maybe no one ever—is as good with the big wince as Wiig.

In most markets, The Skeleton Twins will share its opening day with the almost look-alike This Is Where I Leave You. But there, the emphasis is on foaling the next generation.

The trailer's big laugh about a couple overheard having sex: "Put a baby in me!" Moral: no matter how dysfunctional the milieu, a woman's one road to happiness is getting her eggs fertilized pronto. Accept no substitutes: The Skeleton Twins has the feeling and humor and the heart.

'The Skeleton Twins' opens Thursday, Sept. 25, at Summerfield Cinemas, 551 Summerfield Rd. Santa Rosa. 707.522-0719.

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