Friday, November 15, 2013

Girl Most Likely

It's a good sign that Kristen Wiig chose Girl Most Likely for her first major role after Bridesmaids. That choice coupled with the fact that she's not interested in doing a Bridesmaids sequel is proof enough for me that Wiig is interested in a career as opposed to momentary success. I only wish that Girl Most Likely, which unlike Bridesmaids Wiig didn't write, wasn't so uneven and so casual with the talents of a good cast. Wiig plays Imogene, once the winner of a prestigious playwriting  fellowship who is now most famous for never having produced any work. After years as a New York society girlfriend Imogene is single and back at home in New Jersey with her compulsive gambler mother (Annette Bening) and eccentric brother (Christopher Fitzgerald). There's also a boarder named Lee (Darren Criss) who helps Imogene open up emotionally and get ready to face the world again. Directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini get good performances out of their cast; if I didn't already know I would never have guessed that the restrained Wiig was a Saturday Night Live veteran. I especially liked Fitzgerald as a man so committed to his own shyness that he builds an exoskeleton even as his crush on a sweet boardwalk girl (Natasha Lyonne) is helping him see that there is life beyond the Jersey shore. The tone varies wildly; there are broad caricatures of New York book parties, good moments with Bening as a woman realizing what a bad mother she was, and a sequence with Bob Balaban that's out of a Wes Anderson movie. Just as things are settling down we get a bizarre, broad scene that resolves the fate of a character played by Matt Dillon who may or may not be with the CIA. Kristen Wiig can clearly handle what is asked of her dramatically, and so I wish the movie had been allowed to breathe a bit and not be turned into such mishmash of moods and styles. There's nothing in the writing to paint Imogene as woman of the theater. We're told that Imogene has playwriting ambition but not shown any until it's too late, but I can't totally dislike any movie that gives Whit Stillman a cameo as an impressed theatergoer. Girl Most Likely is a good line on Kristen Wiig's resume but finally a movie where too many ideas get in the way of a beating heart.

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