out of Five
Running time: 103
A watchable comedy enlivened by strong comic performances and likeable, offbeat characters, though Girl Most Likely settles for rough edges and quirky moments rather than the big laughs and set-pieces of, say, Bridesmaids.
What's it all about?
Directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (American Splendor), Girl Most Likely (aka Imogene, its original US title) stars Kristin Wiig as Imogene, a failed New York playwright who fakes a suicide attempt to try and win back her clearly disinterested ex (Brian Petsos). However, this drastically backfires as she ends up being court-ordered to live with her estranged mother, ex-Go-Go dancer Zelda (Annette Bening) in New Jersey.
Imogene is disappointed to discover that Zelda has rented her old room to sexy twentysomething Lee (Darren Criss), who has a job as part of a boy band tribute act; she also doesn't quite know how to take Zelda's new boyfriend George (Matt Dillon), who claims he's a CIA agent. However, after discovering a shocking family secret, she ends up bonding with crab-obsessed inventor brother Ralph (Christopher
Fitzgerald) and sparking an attraction with nice guy Lee.
Wiig is excellent as Imogene; as with Bridesmaids, in Girl Most Likely she's not afraid to play her lead character as both flawed and not exactly sympathetic at times, yet we can't help warming to her. Similarly, Bening is great value as Imogene's flighty mother, while Dillon is very funny as George ‘the Bousche’ and Wiig generates affecting chemistry with both Criss and Fitzgerald, whose character could easily have been written in highly irritating fashion, but instead manages to be sweet and charming.
The offbeat script is consistently amusing and Girl Most Likely is commendable for what it doesn't do, in that it sidesteps the expected romcom clichés and goes for something a bit rougher around the edges instead. On top of that, the filmmakers include a handful of lovely moments, such as Wiig guiltily mouthing along to a Backstreet Boys song while she watches Lee's act for the first time, or her reaction to her doctor describing her suicide note as well written and convincing (‘You really thought it was good?’).
That said, the film never quite hits the comedic heights of a film like Bridesmaids (Wiig is probably never going to be able to make another female-led comedy that doesn't get compared to Bridesmaids one way or another) and seems content to settle for low level jokes and the occasional witty line rather than out-and-out belly laughs. In addition, the finale is unconvincing and all of the relationships in the film seem somehow underdeveloped (even Fitzgerald's flirtation with Natasha Lyonne), so the film ultimately feels slightly frustrating on an emotional level.
Girl Most Likely is a watchable and amusing comedy-drama that succeeds thanks to strong comic performances and a pleasingly offbeat script that dodges the expected clichés, even if that doesn't always work.