Girl Most Likely

Girl Most Likely
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Movie detail

Rating: 3 out of 5
Length: 103 minutes
Release Date: July 18, 2013
Directed by: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Genre: Comedy/Drama



“Girl Most Likely” tells the story of Imogene, played by Kristen Wiig, who was once on top of the world as a New York City playwright. After years of fabricating her personality in order to fit in with high society, she simultaneously loses her job and gets dumped by her boyfriend, which prompts her to make a desperate move. A clumsy suicide attempt launched with the intention of winning back her beloved boyfriend results with her being placed in a hospital that ditches her into the custody of her mother who lives in Imogene’s home town of Ocean City, New Jersey.

Imogene is suddenly thrust into a whimsical environment, although, her life situation is anything but funny. Her free-spirited mother, played by Annette Bening, has a problem with gambling and lives in a small home with her much-younger boyfriend, played by Matt Dillon. He claims to be a CIA agent; however, Imogene has her doubts about this. The other occupants in her childhood home include her freeloading brother, played by Christopher Fitzgerald, and a charming young guy named Lee who is renting her old bedroom. On the outside looking in, this situation would likely elicit laughs, but as Imogene contemplates her immediate state of affairs, the outlook appears depressing; she is in her thirties and lives with her mother; she is unemployed in a different state with a history as a failed writer; she knows no one in the city aside from her slightly deranged mother. Essentially, she is forced to rebuild her life from the ground up.

We get to watch as Imogene is forced to interact with people that she had hoped to leave behind for a life in the Big Apple. While it’s humorous to watch as she has to interact with her socially stunted brother and her mother’s delusional boyfriend as she attempts to stand on her own two feet and get her life back on track, the comedic moments are used to make the dramatic elements of the film easier to stomach.

The idea that preconceived notions hold people back from enjoying life as they should is a key theme of this film. Imogene’s self-destruction was inevitable as she was trying to live a lifestyle she believed was ideal, rather than doing what truly made her happy in life. Year after year of having the false notions reinforced through her interactions with her colleagues and friends in New York ingrained an attitude that required an extreme culture shock to give her the ability to change.

In the beginning, Imogene resisted change and clung to her old beliefs as most people do. She felt as if she was a failure for not making it in New York, and she was depressed about what her life had become. While there is some truth to her beliefs regarding her life situation, she had to realize that she needed to leave her old beliefs behind and learn to follow her heart in order to achieve true success.

One of the key scenes in the movie where we notice a shift in Imogene’s mentality is when she travels to Atlantic City with Lee, the roommate who is occupying her former room, to listen to him perform in a 1990s cover band. At first, she feels embarrassed for being in the audience. She also feels embarrassed for him-making a fool of himself without the self-awareness to realize it. During the performance we see an almost uncontrollable transformation as Imogene bobs her head to the music and loses herself to the moment.

This is the defining moment of her transformation. She realizes that Lee is actually a talented musician, even though his music doesn’t fit into her old preconceived idea of what good music is. Not only is she enjoying his performance, there is an entire audience that is happy to hear him play. She realizes that he is a talented individual, and despite the fact he’s renting a room in her mother’s house, he has a gift to offer the world.

With this newfound realization, she discovers that she has something to offer the world as well, but she must discover what her calling in life is. However, with the chains of misconceptions and false ideals lifted off her shoulders, she finally has the ability to freely find her passion. It’s extremely difficult to create a dramatic comedy as one element will typically overpower the other. Berman and Pulcini worked hard to create “Girl Most Likely,” which is a good effort at creating a deceivingly difficult type of movie.

In “Bridesmaids’” Kristen Wiig was a woman trying to pick up the pieces of her life amid the wedding of a friend. In “Girl Most Likely”, she winds up playing a character trying to pick up the pieces of her life playing an actress who really needs to do a better job of picking screenplays. This is an unfortunate career detour and I assume she knows it.

She plays Imogene, a character who even as a girl is so much of a cynic that she even questions Dorothy’s decision to want to leave Oz for home during a school production of “Wizard of Oz”. It’s one of many obvious decisions Michelle Morgan takes with this screenplay, where Imogene suffers a nervous breakdown after being shunned by both her boyfriend and the NYC art society she wants to impress as a playwright.

After a fake suicide attempt, she is released to her irresponsible, gambling addict mother who she has despised since childhood and it’s back to her childhood home of Ocean Park, New Jersey where we will have to wait in vain for her to figure out that home is where the heart is and that the eccentrics in her family are just doing the best they can. It’s slow-going, mostly because Imogene is such a whiny presence stuck in her own state of self-pity, threatening to kill herself anytime she doesn’t get what she wants, and refusing to even acknowledge the problems of other people.

As soon as Imogene is returned home, she finds that a sexy younger guy is renting-out her room (Darren Criss), her mom is dating a CIA agent (Matt Dillon) who goes by a fake name and needs to wear a rubber suit every time there’s lightning outside, her brother (Christopher Fitzgerald), who has some type of mental disorder, is still living there and building a giant rubber bug suit to protect himself, and that her father (Bob Balaban), who she thought died during a routine procedure, is actually alive and writing in NYC.

The screenplay shows its seams with these people, either there to conveniently serve as the inspirational force that encourages her to move on (Criss), the eccentrics who come off ridiculous before later being found to be merely misunderstood (Benning, Dillon, Fitzgerald), or to show that high society isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (Balaban). They never seem like characters, only tools.

Sporadically funny but never really all that compelling, neither Wiig or directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (“American Splendor”) can’t navigate away from a contrived and unlikable screenplay.

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