STARRING: Kristin Wiig, Annette Bening, Darren Criss, Matt Dillon, Christopher Fitzgerald, June Diane Raphael, Natasha Lyonne, Bob Balaban.
DIRECTED BY: Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini
Well, Kristin Wiig, you’re out in the real world now. You have to trust your gut instincts and go for films that you think are solid works. You can’t be writing your own material all the time. Lesson partially learned from Girl Most Likely, a movie with a decent premise that is saved by the strong work of the actors, despite a weak script, and poor direction.
Imogene (Kristin Wiig) starts off the film living the life in high society, abandoning her Jersey past. She was an award winning playwright a few years back, and has a Dutch boyfriend, and a circle of friends that look like what would happen if the cast of Gossip Girl grew up. Then, she’s dumped by her boyfriend, and fired from her job. She thinks that faking suicide will get her boyfriend to come back, but it just ends up having her released into the custody of her mother (Annette Bening), who she hates. She returns home to Jersey, and her socially inept (but really sweet) brother Ralph (Christopher Fitzgerald) is happy she’s home. Her mother has started renting her bedroom out to a local performer, Lee (Darren Criss), and has a new boyfriend who may or may not be a “time travelling samurai/CIA agent” (Matt Dillon) who refers to himself as The Bouche.
After returning home, she finds out that her mom lied to her about her dad being dead all this time, so she starts trying to figure out how to contact him. She also enjoys spending time with Ralph, who has started selling hermit crabs on the boardwalk. As she moves away from the idea that she’s going to get her boyfriend back, she starts realizing that Lee isn’t a bad guy, and the two start to have a relationship that seems really good for Imogene. In the end, it turns out the thing that she feared the most (going home again) ends up being the best thing that could have happened to her.
I have no idea why this film is called Girl Most Likely, as there isn’t even a line of dialogue in the script about her being voted Girl Most Likely to do anything. I found some of the writing, especially early on, to be weak. Most of the New York characters are obnoxiously written, as if to give them an extra boost on us hating them early on. The actor cast as Imogene’s boyfriend at the beginning of the film is a horrendous actor who sleepwalks into the frame as if he’s lost and unaware that he’s in a movie. The direction is terrible. The sound that goes from the sex scene into the morning after scene doesn’t bleed like they’d planned. I thought the direction of the club/dancing scene felt out of place, like it was given to an intern or something. It didn’t look/feel like the rest of the movie.
This movie is born and sold on the performances of the actors. Matt Dillon is hilarious at The Bouche. His lines are perfection. Annette Bening perfectly commits to a role we’ve already seen her play (if you’ve seen Running With Scissors), and she’s great again here. Darren Criss is enigmatic on screen, and if more people saw this film, he might get a career boost from it. He plays Lee with both honesty and charm, without having a commanding presence that overshadows a female lead. He’s a great compliment to women like Wiig, who are intended to be the lead of the film. Often times, actors like Matthew McConaughey end up overshadowing their female counterparts. Criss is more like Luke Wilson or John Cusack, a nice guy who pairs well with others. And Christopher Fitzgerald is heartbreakingly adorable as Ralph. If there’s ever been a character on screen that just needed a hug, it’s him.
While Wiig isn’t given as much to do here as she was in Bridesmaids, she does make the most of it. Her character is a much more toned down version of some of the crazy personalities she’s played in the past, and instead she has to play straight to Bening and Dillon, who are much wackier than Wiig’s Imogene. Huge props to the casting director here, because the five leads are perfectly cast, and actually make a very mediocre film much better. I enjoyed Girl Most Likely more than I should have, from a technical standpoint. There’s no reason to rush out to theatres to see this, but I would definitely recommend this for a home viewing. It is worth the time in your life.
FINAL GRADE: B+