Home is where the heart is. In Girl Most Likely (opening today), it's also the last place you would want to find yourself.
Kristen Wiig plays Imogene, who by all accounts is failing at life. This is the same sort of down-and-out character that Wiig played so well in Bridesmaids, but in Girl Most Likely, the tone is much more quirky dramedy than a straight play for laughs. Therefore, Wiig's talent as a leading lady are on full display.
Like many who enter their thirties, life begins to unfold in unexpected ways and that is also the charm of Girl Most Likely. Imogene has always been a go-getter (the movie opens with young Imogene, starring in an elementary school play about The Wizard of Oz and wanting to re-write the ending altogether...why, after all, would Dorothy want to leave Oz?). Again, like many, she has had a few opportunities to make something of herself along the way, but has squandered them.
Getting fired from her job and dumped by her boyfriend, the film seemed to by a heading down the Lola Versus road, a film that I loved last year starring Greta Gerwig. When Imogene returns home after what is believed to be an attempted suicide, we meet her eccentric family.
Annette Bening is fabulous as her mother Zelda, chewing the scenery up with aggressive bites. Her boyfriend is simply known as "George Bousche" (Matt Dillon, channeling Ben "Coach" Wade, a popular and memorable man who has appeared on the TV show, Survivor). No, George Bousche is not his real name, he is allegedly a CIA operative - oh, and a samurai warrior - who cannot reveal his true identity. Then there is Imogene's brother Ralph (Christopher Fitzgerald), a Rain Man kind of a guy who has never dared to venture outside of his hometown and who quite literally finds himself shelled up in his mother's home. Then of course there is Lee, the good-looking bachelor renting a room in the house (Darren Criss).
Once Imogene is at the house, it's pretty clear that she will fall for Lee, but that the film will center around her relationship with her mother. Surprisingly (and refreshingly), it does not.
In fact, the charm of Girl Most Likely is in how it continues to take unexpected left turns, leading up to the bizarre final scenes that border on farce.
It's not news to say that Kristen Wiig has arrived. Girl Most Likely is the next step in her evolution. She reminds me so much of Meg Ryan, except with an additional comedic gear that she can thrust herself into, that channels the zany physicality of someone like Gilda Radner. Her ensemble cast here is terrific, even smaller roles from June Diane Raphael as Imogene's super-fake friend, or her stuffy father played by the fantastic Bob Balaban.
But there was a disconnect for me, between the light, drifty tone of the film and the overly obvious themes presented within. It's a story about getting out of your shell, about perception and about the idealistic fallacies we create in our lives.
Despite some laughs, a fair bit of clever dialogue and the strong performances, Girl Most Likely is the sort of film that - while enjoyable - is likely to be forgotten by the time you reach your car.
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Run Time: 1 hour, 43 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, Matt Dillon, Darren Criss, Christopher Fitzgerald, June Diane Raphael, Natasha Lyonne, Bob Balaban
Written by Michelle Morgan (Middle of Nowhere)
Directed by Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini (American Splendor, The Nanny Diaries, The Extra Man)
Opens locally on Friday, July 19, 2013 (check for show times).
Be sure to watch Tom Santilli on TV! Check your local listings for “Movie Show Plus” for Tom’s weekly movie review segment, airing at 3 p.m. EST on MYTV20 in Detroit.
How to read Tom Santilli's "Star Ratings:"
- 5 Stars: Exceptional, must-see movie
- 4 Stars: Very good movie, not without flaws
- 3 Stars: The movie was just OK, leaves a lot to be desired
- 2 Stars: Pretty bad, a let-down, disappointing, but with some redeeming qualities
- 1 Star: Awful, sloppy, a total waste of time