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
Delightful comedy with outstanding cast and performances
"Girl Most Likely" is one of the best comedies I've seen in years. In the spirit of "Crossing Delancey," the film tells the story of a single woman who has turned her back on her nearby humble roots for the Manhattan literary scene. But instead of the Lower East Side and a traditional Jewish upbringing, it's Ocean City, New Jersey and a dysfunctional Jersey-shore family that our heroine, Imogene (Kristen Wiig), thinks she's left behind. And whereas both films are romantic comedies, the emphasis in "Delancey" is romance and the emphasis in "Girl" is on comedy.
Unlike many recent comedies, such as "Bridesmaids" and "The Hangover," "Girl" doesn't turn to gross-out humor for its laughs, but generates them from character, dialogue, timing and visuals that are so cleverly thought-out that Wiig's mom's (Annettte Bening) Ocean City house becomes yet another outlandish character at which we are invited to laugh.
Matt Dillon gives his best comedic performance since "There's Something About Mary," Christopher Fitzgerald gives a sweet, memorable performance as Imogene's brother, Ralph, and Darren Criss does a star turn as boy-band singer covering the Back Street Boys in one of the shore's more pathetic lounges.
Wiig and Benning give the most remarkable performances. Benning's Jersey-accented portrayal of Imogene's gambling-addicted, credulous mom is a delight made more so because it's her delivering it. Wiig has finally found material more nuanced than the broad humor she is known for. Would that screenwriter Michelle Morgan had come along ten years earlier, because Wiig's career might have taken an entirely different arc.
Finally, the wife-and-husband directing team of Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini may be the best thing that's happened to romantic comedy since Rob Reiner and Nora Ephron teamed up to give us "When Harry Met Sally." With "American Splendor" and HBO's "Cinema Verité" in their oeuvre, I will be interested to see what this versatile duo comes up with next.
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