Tag Archives: Girl Most Likely

Review: Kristen Wiig and Annette Bening Make “Girl Most Likely” Watchable – Barely

girl most likely

When I first saw “Girl Most Likely” at TIFF 2012 and reviewed it for The Playlist, it was called “Imogene.” I found it a sitcom-y but likable affair. I reviewed it again recently for the Buffalo News under its new name, and pretty much had the same response. Perhaps I went a little soft on it, but that’s how likable Kristen Wiig is. Here is my 2 ½ star review.

Thank goodness for the return of Kristen Wiig in a starring role. The former “Saturday Night Live” star has not been the lead in a feature since “Bridesmaids” ruled the box office in 2011, and that’s far too long a wait.

The film that brings her back to a starring role is “Girl Most Likely,” opening here Friday, and it is no “Bridesmaids.” Silly and generally unbelievable, it is still a well-intentioned, often very funny effort, one anchored by Wiig’s inherent likability.

Wiig plays Imogene Duncan (the film’s original title was the far lovelier “Imogene”), a New Yorker who won a prestigious writing award many years before, and was even included on New York magazine’s “list of playwrights to watch.”

Now, she is living with a jerk boyfriend, has wealthy, snobbish, barely tolerable friends, and ponders what happened to her bygone talent. After a breakup, she makes the logical next step – the fake suicide attempt. (You may recall I classified the film as “generally unbelievable.”)

Following this blunder, Imogene is released to the care of the last person in the world she wants to see: her brassy, casino-addicted mother, Zelda, played deliciously by a very funny Annette Bening. Next stop is her childhood home, in Ocean City, N.J.

Zelda lives with a “CIA agent” who calls himself “George Boosh,” and often leaves suddenly on “secret missions” (sigh), and Imogene’s sweet brother Ralph (Christopher Fitzgerald), an introverted man-child afraid to leave Jersey.

Ralph considers himself an inventor, spending his time building a giant, impenetrable exoskeleton. In other words, he is nonsensically quirky, dumb quirky, “movie” quirky.

Living in the family home is a boarder, Lee (Darren Criss of “Glee”), a member of an Atlantic City Backstreet Boys’ tribute band. (Between “Girl” and “This Is the End,” this is the best press the Boys have had in two decades.)

Lee and Imogene grow close amid the Ocean City insanity, and he becomes an ally in her attempt to put her life back together. Along the way, she discovers the father she thought was dead may be alive, and in Manhattan, and realizes that the writing inspiration she needed might just come from her family.

Wiig – who, post-“Bridesmaids,” also appeared in a winning but underseen comedy called “Friends With Kids” – will happily play the dorky klutz, and play it well. As Imogene, she is her usual charming, funny, endearing self, to a degree that it becomes rather depressing to watch how horribly everyone treats her.

Imogene’s insistence on being involved with these shoddy folks makes her seem, well, dopey. But Wiig is so talented, from her expressions to her body language, that simply having the chance to watch her on screen for 90 minutes feels like a treat.

Bening, Criss and even an over-the-top Matt Dillon are just amusing enough to rise above the hysterics, but the actor saddled with the film’s weakest – and most unnecessary – role is Fitzgerald, whose Ralph is neither funny nor cute. (I was eager for him to stay in the exoskeleton.)

The screenplay is also a problem. The film’s initial concept – Imogene as former next-big-thing playwright – is mostly dropped, except for the occasional reference. Plus, Imogene’s search for her father takes up way too much screen time, and adds little.

“Girl Most Likely” is directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, the husband-and-wife directing team whose career took a nosedive after the great Harvey Pekar story, “American Splendor.” This is another odd digression for the duo, but it is difficult to be too upset with a movie featuring a cameo by Whit Stillman.

No, this is nowhere near as successful as “Bridesmaids” (which Wiig co-wrote), but it is sure to please Wiig’s legion of fans. Still, she deserves to play a character as smart as she is.

I expect that will be very soon, but until then, the mostly likable “Girl Most Likely” will have to suffice.

Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions; from The Playlist “Imogene” review

Weekend Preview: “The Godfather” is Screening … Plus, Killer Horror and a Sure-Fire Bomb

godfather_ver1

The best film showing this weekend in Buffalo? No brainer: On almost any weekend, if “The Godfather” is screening somewhere, the answer is going to be “The Godfather.”

The 1972 classic will be showing at The Screening Room for the first time ever on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday at 7:30, but note that the Saturday (July 20) show is a “‘Godfather’ food and film event,” an idea that is very fun in theory, at least.

Meanwhile, at the multiplex, we are nearing that strange point of the summer blockbuster season when most of the biggies have been released, and some of the iffier commercial propositions start dropping. Sometimes these are simply films that needed a wide berth from the major blockbusters. Such is the case with “Turbo,” the animated film coming out a few weeks after “Monsters University” and “Despicable Me 2” cleaned up. But “DM2” is SUCH a hit that perhaps a few more weeks would have helped …

“Turbo” should hit No. 1, but the other new releases this week — “The Conjuring,” “R.I.P.D.” and “Red 2” — could then fall in any order. I reviewed James Wan’s “Conjuring” for the Buffalo News, and, quite honestly, loved it — one of the finest horror films in recent years. These flicks tend to overperform, and I believe that will be the case here. Considering how cheap they cost to produce, it is rather shocking there are not more horror films being turned out.

On the other end of the spectrum is “R.I.P.D.,” a movie that has carried the whiff of a disaster for months. This one will flop, big, I believe, and that is a major dent in Ryan Reynolds’ career. It might even lose to “Red 2,” one of the more puzzling sequels of the year. “Red” was likable, and had a fine premise, but … “Red 2”? Really? It could prove a draw to over-40s, though, and might end up a solid earner.

Yes, it’s a weird week, indeed, although you can’t say there is not something for every demo.

Interestingly, the Elmwood Regal brings to town two Indian films, “Ramaiya Vastavaiya” and “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.” The latter is three hours long!

One of the year’s most buzzed-about indies, the Sundance hit “The Way, Way Back,” opens at the Amherst and Eastern Hills Dipsons, and I’m a bit torn. It looks hugely likable, and very “Adventureland,” yet its hard to summon up much enthusiasm. Its likable writer-directors, Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, should be enough to draw me in, and I’m hoping for a pleasant surprise.

Also opening at the Amherst Dipson is the Kristen Wiig-starring “Girl Most Likely,” a so-so film I saw at TIFF 2012, and reviewed for the Buffalo News. “Girl” is also opening at the Quaker Crossing in OrchardPark.

In addition to “Way,” the acclaimed documentary “20 Feet From Stardom” and the is-this-still-up? Pierce Brosnan romance “Love is All You Need” are continuing their Eastern Hills runs.

Interestingly, Nicholas Winding-Refn’s “Only God Forgives” did not open at any local theaters, but it is available on VOD starting today. You can bet I’ll be ordering.

Ang Lee’s Best Director-worthy — to the Academy, not to me — “Life of Pi” is this week’s choice at Bacchus , while the UB North Campus features Tom Cruise in “Oblivion” on Friday and Bryan Singer’s “X-Men” on Tuesday (July 23), both at 9:15, and the UB South Campus offers up the crappy, but timely, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” on Wednesday (July 24).

Yes, “The Wolverine” is on its way. In a summer of some surprise flops, it looks like a safe bet … But that’s what they said about “White House Down,” isn’t it?

Poster art courtesy of Paramount Pictures