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David O. Russell
Robert De Niro
Kristen Wiig stars as Imogene, a failed New York playwright awkwardly navigating the transition from Next Big Thing to Last Year's News. After both her career and relationship hit the skids, she's forced to make the humiliating move back home to New Jersey with her eccentric mother and younger brother (Annette Bening and Christopher Fitzgerald). Adding further insult to injury, there's a strange man sleeping in her old bedroom (Darren Criss) and an even stranger man sleeping in her mother's bed (Matt Dillon). Through it all, Imogene eventually realizes that as part of her rebuilding process she must finally come to love and accept both her family and her Jersey roots if she's ever going to be stable enough to get the hell away from them. Written by
Girl Most Likely is full of potential and just like it's heroin, a lot is expected from it. It's a great set up with an amazing cast but where it has all those strengths- it's weaknesses are equal if not stronger.
The film follows Imogene (Kristen Wiig), an unlikable whining 30 year old woman- child. Once a successful up and coming playwright, Imogene is in a major slump. After a fake suicide attempt she is released by the hospital into the hands of her gambling addicted mother (Annette Bening). Imogene is taken against her will from the comforts of New York to where she grew up, a New Jersey boardwalk town, that she hates with a passion. There she finds her mother is dating a younger man who may or may not be a CIA agent (Matt Dillon) and meets an even younger man (Darren Criss) who is renting out her childhood bedroom. When Imogene and her younger brother Ralph (Christopher Fitzgerald) find out their long deceased father is actually alive and well, Imogene makes it her goal to find and reunite with him.
From the get go Girl Most Likely tries to instill in your brain what it is like to be Imogene by some shabby point of view camera work. In fact most of the visual appeal of the film really just rests on the expressive and handsome shoulders of young up and comer Darren Criss who, as the sexy happy go- lucky Lee, represents what Imogene should aspire to be but fails to become.
Wiig, who is known for her eccentric and outrageous characters (Saturday Night Live, Bridesmaids) plays the straight man to Imogene's kooky family. She does not do well as the straight man in this film. Imogene is grumpy, selfish and irrational. She uses her own self sabotaged failure as an excuse to be awful to her family and friends.
Dillon and Bening (The Kids Are All Right) do their best caricatures of their characters, but never really get past the shtick. However, Fitzgerald does a fine job as Imogene's sweet "special" adult brother Ralph, he is so innocently wide eyed and optimistic that you could hate Imogene for not coming to visit in years.
To be fair, there are many funny moments in Girl Most Likely. Awkward laugh out loud gold moments. The film keeps going back and forth between outrageous comedy to slow burning indie, making it an uneven ride. It's about Imogene growing up and learning to love the family she has and not the one she thinks they should be- and she does learn to love them but it's not enough. She has larger issues and the ending doesn't feel resolved for her or an audience who spends 103 minutes trying to root for her.
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