GIRL MOST LIKELY
Kristen Wiig’s passion project showcases Christopher Fitzgerald.
Let me get this out of the way, I love Kristen Wiig and think she is one of the funniest human beings alive today. When she was able to capitalize on her Bridesmaids success by getting to develop her passion project, Imogene, excitement ran high. After leaving SNL, Wiig is set to become a movie star. Then Imogene had it’s world premiere at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The reviews were mostly brutal. It’s a big festival with movies from all over the world, maybe it just didn’t go over well. Then several months went by without any sign of a release date over the holidays. In December, it was finally announced that the movie’s new title was Girl Most Likely and a release date of July 19th was set. It’s usually not a good sign when these things happen.
The movie is a big, damn mess. No wonder they renamed it.
Imogene (Wiig) is a failed playwright living in New York City. She works a crappy job for a magazine, has a crappy boyfriend who is always on his smartphone and she has a crappy “BFF” who is a gossipy bitch. She then loses her job, boyfriend and apartment in quick succession due to her poor decisions. With nowhere to turn, Imogene fakes her suicide in an attempt to win back the crappy boyfriend. The stunt backfires with Imogene winding up in the psych ward at the hospital under 72-hour suicide watch. Since the hospital is over-booked, they release her into the custody of her estranged mother Zelda (Annette Bening), a compulsive gambler and walking stereotype from Ocean City, New Jersey, the hometown Imogene is still embarrassed about.
When Imogene arrives back home she is in for a shock as her mother rented her room out to a Lee (Darren Criss), a young stud who is a Backstreet Boys impersonator at a local casino. He’s clearly going to be the new love interest, which is refreshing as Imogene’s clearly about 10 to 12 years older then him. Imogene’s eccentric, near shut-in brother Ralph (Christopher Fitzgerald) is happy to see her return even if she’s not thrilled by it. She also meets “The Bousche” (Matt Damon), Zelda’s new live-in boyfriend who claims to be a CIA secret agent which seems completely believable to everyone but Imogene. Now Imogene must put the pieces of her life back together while also learning a bombshell about her father who died when she was 9, a point in her life when Imogene thinks she was truly screwed over by life.
Now looking at the gimmicky, sitcom-like plot it seems like we should be in for a decent enough time as the situations should be rife with all kinds of comedic potential. Sadly, the movie never quite manages to connect together. Wiig’s Imogene is a terrible character who passively lets life happen all around her while she blames her nutty Jersey mom for her troubles. For a “passion project,” Wiig’s choice seems a bit odd as most of the side characters, especially Ralph, are the only interesting ones in the movie. Imogene’s character is one who looks down on her New Jersey roots while pining to be one of the chosen ones who lives in the cultural mecca of New York City.
Luckily for Imogene the other characters in the movie all inexplicably want to help her, none more so than Lee who implausibly takes a shine to her even though she’s mean to him. Their romance blossoms in one of the best scenes in the movie when Imogene goes to watch Lee perform as a Backsteet Boy. Watching Wiig’s facial expression during the performance show the whole range of emotions from shock to embarrassment to liking it to singing along quietly to “that look,” the one that a woman makes where she sizes up a potential partner and says “Yes, I am going to sleep with him.” This is Wiig using her talents to the fullest where her emotions and reactions to a scene bring the funny, sadly something this film only has a few times. Of course Lee has to take Imogene out for a night dancing and drinking to help her snap her bad attitude. This is fast becoming a generational cliche last witnessed in The Internship and countless others.
My real disappointment comes from the fact that there is a really good, dark, funny movie hidden in this mess of a movie. The directing team of Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (American Splendor, Cinema Verite) are not quite sure what kind of romantic comedy that are directing which is a huge detriment to the movie. The tone shifts all over the place, subplots arise and drop out, scene go on too long or not enough. It’s tough to make a dark comedy with a PG-13 rating, Girl Most Likely would’ve really benefited from going for that R-rated Farrelly Brothers-style of comedy, I mean come on, Matt Dillon’s already there! The whole OZ-dead father subplot seemed a bit too on-the-nose and somewhat shallow by the end. Let’s hope this is just a small blip in Wiig’s career for she is too talented to be slumming in material that doesn’t take full advantage of her comedic skills. I will commend her for thinking outside of the box, I just hope she chooses better scripts next time.