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Girl Most Likely

Imogene 2013 | 103 min | PG-13 | 1.85:1

Girl Most Likely


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Theatrical release date

 19 July, 2013
 27 September, 2013

Country of origin

 United States

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Screenshots from Girl Most Likely Blu-ray

Girl Most Likely Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, July 18, 2013

The quirk flies hard and heavy in “Girl Most Likely,” which often resembles more of a failed sitcom pilot than a feature film. Directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini show no sense of timing and tenor when it comes to the deployment of eccentricity in this comedy, but they do have a reassuring figure in star Kristen Wiig, who proficiently manages any challenge tossed her way. She’s the lone highlight of this soggy, overeager effort, coming to the rescue of a few embarrassingly forced moments of oddity, while consistently supporting the rest of this painfully self-aware picture with her innate screen gifts.

Frustrated with her failing relationship with distracted boyfriend Peter (Brian Petsos), Imogene (Kristen Wiig) decides to takes extremes measure to lure him back, faking her own suicide to attract his attention. Discovered by snooty author Dara (June Diane Raphael), Imogene is rushed to the hospital, with doctors hoping estranged mother Zelda (Annette Bening) will take custody of her daughter during her evaluation period. Removed from her New York City womb and brought to her childhood home on the Jersey Shore, Imogene is horrified by the prospect of interacting with her unreliable mother, comforted by the presence of her mentally challenged brother Ralph (Christopher Fitzgerald), and creeped out by George Bush (Matt Dillon), Zelda’s mysterious boyfriend who claims to be a C.I.A. operative. Discovering that her biological father isn’t nearly as dead as she was led to believe, Imogene leads an effort to find the man, taking Ralph and household renter Lee (Darren Criss) along for a ride of empowerment.

Although it doesn’t appear to have such intense cravings during its first half, “Girl Most Likely” desperately wants to be loved. Berman and Pulcini (“American Splendor,” “The Nanny Diaries”) are out to craft an indie film with a mainstream heartbeat, treating Imogene’s initial breakdown with a sense of adventure, following through on the suicide punchline without tripping over themselves, while the character’s reentry into her old life carries tangible discomfort as she reacquaints herself with the toxicity of her mother (Zelda is a gambling addict and uninterested in her children) and greets Lee with skepticism, unsure of the man who currently resides in her old room. Imogene is also a study in failure, unwilling to challenge herself despite showing promise as a playwright, afraid to expose herself to a vicious world. There’s texture to the early going of the picture, a faint feel of coarseness as personalities are established and the quest to meet dead dad begins.

Midway through “Girl Most Likely,” the screenplay by Michelle Morgan develops a case of the cutes, corrupting the raw nerve endings of Imogene’s arc of self-discovery. Instead of a human touch, we’re treated to strained interplay and romantic intentions between Imogene and Lee, who’s employed as a Backstreet Boys imitator at a local club. There’s the character of Ralph, Imogene’s sweet brother who’s taken his love for mollusks to the next level, building a metal shell for himself, helping him to hide from the dangers of the outside world. He also harbors a crush on boardwalk face-painter Allyson (Natasha Lyonne), though nothing is really made of the pairing outside of a single scene of sisterly intervention. “Girl Most Likely” really pushes its luck with the loopy George Bush subplot, which seems added from a different movie entirely, introducing a cringe-inducing broadness Pulcini and Berman can’t manage to satisfaction.

Centering the picture is Wiig, who’s effortlessly charming in this, her starring-role follow-up to “Bridesmaids.” Although Morgan’s writing doesn’t demand much from the character, Wiig does a commendable job lending Imogene life and maintaining her endearing escalation of concern. Landing the film’s only laughs, she’s bright and playful, keeping the artificiality of production at bay for as long as she can hold out.

The climax of “Girl Most Likely” is moronic, transforming a picture of persistent quirk into a failed sketch comedy showdown, playing up fantasy interests instead of reality. It’s a feel-good capper on an underwhelming effort that doesn’t earn the champagne shower it’s seeking, cementing flirtations with falseness that plagues the rest of the feature. Not even a Wiig smirk and shuffle can save a movie that sheds all good taste for a finale straight out of cornball television.

Starring: Kristen Wiig, Darren Criss, Matt Dillon, Annette Bening, June Diane Raphael, Natasha Lyonne
Directors: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini

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