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Girl Most Likely review: 'Kristen Wiig can't match Bridesmaids success'

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Released on Friday, Sep 27 2013

Director: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini; Screenwriter: Michelle Morgan; Starring: Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, Matt Dillon, Darren Criss; Running time: 103 mins; Certificate: 12A


If you loved Bridesmaids you'll be disappointed by Kristen Wiig's latest comedy venture, playing a one-hit-wonder of a playwright. She is just as much a loser in this story, only not as likeable thanks to a navel-gazing script directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, who are still looking to qualify the success of their 2003 comic drama American Splendor.

Wiig has the kind of dopey appeal that means she can get away with a lot, but that theory is tested very early on when her character, Imogene, stages a suicide attempt. In fact, it's an outrageously funny scene because of the indifference she encounters, but after a messy break-up and the stalling of her career, she moves back home from New York to New Jersey where she mostly mopes around and looks down on those who are trying to help her.

Imogene is far too superior and the filmmakers encourage you to empathise by making her family a bunch of oiks. Annette Bening is Zelda, her naturally overbearing mother who has shacked up with Matt Dillon, aka 'The Bouche', a blabbering raconteur who insists he is a spy on a top secret mission. Her brother Ralph (Christopher Fitzgerald) has learning difficulties, but this means Imogene can show her softer side, by condescending to him.

Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening in Girl Most Likely

© Lionsgate

Actually, Bening and Dillon are a wickedly funny double-act and Wiig is a great 'straight man', painfully aware that she must tolerate their nonsense until she can afford to move out again. The problem is that, as the story unfolds, the ticks and quirks never give way to any sincere emotion. Zelda confesses to having lied to Imogene and Ralph about their father being dead, a monumental deceit that is never properly justified - even if Zelda is a bit batty.

Finally, Imogene has something to do, aiming to find her dad and recover some sense of her own identity. However, the script doesn't latch on as tightly to this idea and provides more distraction in the shape of Zelda's 20-something lodger (Darren Criss). He's sleeping in Imogene's old room and after a lot of spiky banter, she wonders if sharing the bed would be a fair compromise. Criss works his boyish charm, but whatever Berman and Pulcini intend, sparks don't fly.

Wiig is always watchable and her comic timing is impeccable, but her bored expression only serves to amplify the monotony of the plot. Things happen suddenly and sporadically and Imogene muddles through the chaos, never building a big enough head of steam. Her scenes with Bening, in particular, should have carried more weight. Instead, Imogene has a philosophy of 'talk to the hand'.

Imogene sets the pace and the tone yet she is too caught up in her own world to fully participate in what is happening around her. Apart from being aloof, her thoughts are too scattered and so is the story, promising much early on and like her, consistently falling short.

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