Girl Most Likely (2012) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sexual content and language
Running time: 103 min.
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, Christopher Fitzgerald, Darren Criss, Matt Dillon, June Diane Raphael, Brian Petsos, Natasha Lyonne, Bob Balaban
Cameo: Cynthia Nixon, Julia Stiles, Andrea Martin, Padma Lakshmi, Whit Stillman
Director: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Screenplay: Michelle Morgan
Girl Most Likely shows that there is a way that Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, Despicable Me), one of the best character comedians around, can be used to ill effect, and that's in asking her to try to save a meandering script and lackluster directorial style by acting quirky in a film full of characters even more oddball than the one she's given.
Wiig stars as Imogene Duncan, a once-promising playwright in NYC who finds herself in the unenviable position of returning home to return to her childhood home in New Jersey following being jilted by her handsome Dutch boyfriend (Petsos, MacGruber), finally breaking down after a fake suicide attempt gone awry. She finds herself moving in to a full house, with her obnoxious mother Zelda (Bening, Running with Scissors), her maladjusted brother Ralph (Fitzgerald, Revolutionary Road), Zelda's so-called CIA agent live-in boyfriend 'George Bousche' (Dillon, You Me and Dupree), and a younger man renting out her old bedroom, Lee (Criss, "Glee").
Working from an original script by Michelle Morgan (Middle of Nowhere), married co-directors Berman and Pulcini (The Nanny Diaries, American Splendor) can't seem to get a handle on the storyline full of nothing but eccentric characterizations. While the likeable cast gives it their all, momentum stalls early and often due to the fact that no two characters seem to be on the same page, leaving most conversations feeling disjointed and ineffectual. Wiig pretty much does a similar character to the one she did in Bridesmaids, except she seems to be, at 39 years old, a bit long in the tooth for the woman-child role. It also doesn't help that she is only 15 years younger than Bening in real life, who also looks younger than her age of 54. We never identify with her plight; Imogene comes across as far too self-centered and irritating, rather than someone we can root for to find happiness and love in the end.
If there's anything resembling a plot to the film, it comes through, just barely, to Imogene and Ralph trying to find their estranged father, whom had been declared dead by Zelda many years before for reasons that shatter credulity. Alas, these scenes are misguided and do little to fill in the many blanks on the what's and why's of the film's existence. Though zany, there are a plethora of unfunny side scenes that include Ralph's creation of a protective crab-like shell he uses while walking down New York's busiest streets, or Imogene's would-be romance with the lessee whose day job is as a two-bit Backstreet Boys impersonator in Atlantic City. The soundtrack stays on the nose with a cavalcade of New Jersey acts like Springsteen and Bon Jovi, though they add little to rein in any form to the wildly underdeveloped ideas within.
Girl Most Likely is a set-up to a payoff that never comes, while the Wizard of Oz motifs come with frequency for reasons that seem to escape the material comedically, in a veiled reference to Imogene considering her home life to have been the least appealing place to be. Too thin to hold weight, the comedy strays into strained overreaching often, until it finally ends. The early closing credits contain a couple of extra scenes, but a good portion of the theatrical audience in attendance at my screening decided to leave as they played behind them, which goes to show how disconnected we are to the characters and how little faith we have that the filmmakers could give us anything amusing worth an extra minute of our time to see. Such a waste of a fine comedic cast.
©2013 Vince Leo