By Gary Murray

Starring Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, Matt Dillon and Darren Criss

Written by Michelle Morgan

Directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini

Running time 103 min

MPAA Rating PG-13

Selig Film Rating Matinee


Kristen Wiig is an Oscar nominated writer for Bridesmaids who got her major break on SNL.  This comic force has been making a major headway into cinema in the last few years, playing quirky characters who are trying to deal with life.  Some of her performances have been in Paul, Date Night and Adventureland.  Her latest art house flick is Girl Most Likely.

Kristen Wiig stars as Imogene.  She is a playwright who has shown promise but just can not seem to launch that creative spark.  In 2004, she won a prestigious award for developing a play but spent all her time and money shopping and lunching with her girlfriends.  She squandered her promise in the fun of NYC.

As the film starts Imogene is having a mid-life crisis.  Her boyfriend has decided to move out.  This devastates her to the point that she loses both her job writing magazine blurbs and her mid-town apartment.  At her wits end, she writes a brilliant suicide note and fakes killing herself. 

That stunt lands her in a hospital and her mother Zelda (Annette Bening) to the rescue.  Imogene sees the woman as a total washout, a person who cannot do anything right.  Imogene’s father died when she was very young and this young writer has broken off all ties with her family.

Mom lives on the shore of Jersey and has that blue collar attitude of the locals.  It is an attitude that Imogene fights.  At her home, she finds out that things have changed in her absence.  Her room has been rented out to Lee (Darren Criss) and her mother has taken a lover George (Matt Dillon).  George claims that he is in the CIA.  Imogene’s brother Ralph (Christopher Fitzgerald) runs a pet hermit crab booth on the shore.  He is a guy who has a slightly different grip on life.

The story is of Imogene’s realizations that everything in her world is not as it seems.  She finds out that her father is not dead and lives in NYC.  She makes plans to find the man so he can save her.  She is determined to use her friends to win back her boyfriend.   The story is of how she finds out that every assumption she has made in her life are all wrong.  By going home, she discovers truth behind the old adage ‘you can’t go home again’.

There are many reasons to like this film and it basically boils down to the casting.  Every role is played by an actor perfect for the part.  Annette Bening plays flamboyant wonderfully.  She is a woman who believes that she is doing the right thing every time and never wants to admit fault.  She is aging gracefully and is not afraid to show her wrinkles. 

Matt Dillon generates most of the laughs as our CIA agent.  Even though Imogene believes he is just a crazed cheater, she still gives him room to spin his tales of espionage.  This is a role that begs to be overplayed and Matt steals just about every moment on screen.  

The biggest praises have to go to Kristen Wiig.  She proves that her leading turn in Bridesmaids was no fluke.  He commands just about every beat of the film and proves that a woman can carry a comedy film. Her reading of the character is sensual without being sexy and emphatic without be pathetic.  She plays Imogene as just another lost soul on this planet.

The problem with the film is two-fold.  It is too quirky while never finding the true humanity in the characters.  Sometimes it plays weird just to play weird.  The second problem is that is just does not deliver the huge belly-laughs one would expect from this type of comedy.  It is written by Michelle Morgan and maybe should have been co-written with Kristen Wiig.  She knows how to craft a solid comedy and another pass through the word processor would have done the script a world of good.

Girl Most Likely is a nice, funny little film that should do well at the box office.  I do not think it has summer box office blockbuster potential but it should draw in those who are tired of all the special effects driven films that populate the summer viewing season. 

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