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Girl Most Likely (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 18, 2021

Girl Most Likely


Starring Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, Christopher Fitzgerald, Darren Criss, Matt Dillon, June Diane Raphael, Brian Petsos, Natasha Lyonne, Bob Balaban, Patricia Kalember, Mickey Sumner, Reed Birney, Nate Corddry, Ronald Guttman Cynthia Nixon, Julia Stiles, Andrea Martin, Padma Lakshmi and Whit Stillman.

Screenplay by Michelle Morgan.

Directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini.

Distributed by Lionsgate Films. 103 minutes. Rated PG-13.

Okay, I have a confession to make. One of the main reasons I saw Girl Most Likely was simply the fact that it was partially filmed in Ocean City, NJ, a town that I have visited most of my life, and I wanted to see what the town looked like on film.

Oh sure, I like Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, Darren Criss and Matt Dillon, but if I'm being honest, I was more curious to see if Playland Castaway Cove would make the cut. (It does, briefly.)

Of course, once you sit down for the film, the scenery can only take you so far. You become involved in the characters and the storyline and the acting. So, I settled in to see what the film was about and if it was good. With that in mind, I can truly say that Ocean City looks pretty darned good in Girl Most Likely.

The rest of the film doesn't come out quite so well.

Girl Most Likely isn't horrible and it has some interesting ideas and some extremely quirky characters. Sadly, most of them are never quite fully realized. Even when they are, they aren't quite as clever as the filmmakers thought they might be. In fact, the sad fact is that despite giving the story an offbeat, indie gloss, most of this stuff has been done before, and it has been done better.

So, while some of the specifics may be completely novel – like, for example, one character's invention of a human-sized protective metal turtle shell which gets a surprising amount of screen time – that doesn't necessarily make them interesting.

In fact, pretty much all of the characters and situations in Girl Most Likely are toiling so hard to be "different" and eccentric that the audience has a bit of a hard time finding a character to latch on to. Only two or three characters seem to be comfortable in their own skins, and one of those appears to be crazy, while the second seems to be an unfeeling asshole.

Distinctly not comfortable in her skin is the lead character, Imogene, played by Bridesmaids star Kristen Wiig. Imogene is a thirtyish copywriter who once upon a time, when she was a young girl growing up at the Jersey Shore, showed great promise to be a playwright. However, she has a happening New York life as a power couple with her hot live-in boyfriend and a job that offers a certain prestige, even as it squanders her talents.

In one of those life meltdowns that only happen in the movies, Imogene loses her job, her boyfriend and her apartment on the same day. In an ill-considered attempt to win him back, she fakes a pill overdose to get him to come and save her. She wakes up in a hospital, being turned over to her oddball, free-spirited mother Zelda (Annette Bening). With no job, no money, no place to stay and now being considered a suicide risk, Imogene must return with her mom to their ramshackle Ocean City home.

Her relationship with her mother is strained, but she does like the opportunity to spend time with her mentally-challenged brother Ralph (Christopher Fitzgerald). However she is surprised to find that in the years since she left home, her mother has not only shacked up with an oddball who claims to be a CIA agent (Matt Dillon). He is named "George Bousche." (I kept trying to figure out if that was a political in-joke about the ex-President, but honestly, I never quite got it.)

Even more shocking to Imogene was the fact that in the eight years since she moved away, her mother had earned some money by renting out her room to a cute singer (Darren Criss of Glee) who works as a celebrity impersonator of 90s boy bands in nearby Atlantic City.

She has also just learned that her father didn't die when she was little, he had just abandoned the family. Turns out he's alive, a famous professor and working in her recent hometown of New York City.

Sounds like a formula for lots of touching and learning.

Wiig should be a natural for a lost character like this, but poor plotting and an uneven script has Wiig over-compensating and overplaying the role. Bening is also forced to overplay because of her wildly flamboyant character, while Bob Balaban barely has a pulse as the unfeeling long-AWOL father.

Surprisingly, the one actor who comes out looking relatively good – and the one who has a character who actually seems sane and relatable – is Criss as the handsome lodger in Imogene's former room. While his eventual friendship (and romantic tension) with the much older Imogene is periodically baffling, he is the most recognizable human being in a film that occasionally appears to be trying to be a freak show.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2013 All rights reserved. Posted: July 19, 2013.

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