Charming though unremarkable, “Girl Most Likely,” Kristen Wiig’s latest dramedy, is touching at times but fails to generate “Bridesmaids”-worthy laughs. “Girl Most Likely” tells the story of Imogene Duncan (Wiig), a Jersey-born, Manhattan-obsessed aspiring (and failing) playwright. When her long-term boyfriend dumps her for a French model, Imogene goes on a crazy, obsessive rampage to win her handsome, socialite beaux back — by faking her own suicide.
Waking up in a psychiatric ward, Imogene is forced to stay at her mother’s place as she “recuperates.” Her mother, Zelda (Annette Bening) is your classic Jersey mom. Living in Ocean City, Zelda is addicted to gambling and has a flag outside her home that reads, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.” Her gaudy clothing and younger, seemingly reality-impaired boyfriend (Matt Dillon) are all reminders to Imogene of why she left Jersey, and her family, behind in the first place.
To make matters worse, her mentally challenged younger brother Ralph (Christopher Fitzgerald) hasn’t left home, and her childhood bedroom has been rented out to a young entertainer and singer (Darren Criss). Though the second Imogene arrives in Ocean City it is clear where the storyline is headed — selfish New Yorker realizes the value of her embarrassing Jersey family — there are some unexpected and touching moments.
The onscreen relationship between siblings Imogene and Ralph is engaging. His ability to make her a fort out of blankets, her willingness to help him woo a girl who works at a glitter tattoo kiosk across from his crab shack on the boardwalk — these are the scenes of “Girl Most Likely” that allow it to not be described as “hollow.” Wiig plays a low-key and subtle character — none of the drunk “there’s a colonial woman on the wing” humor here — but the tender sibling duo is what gives her character depth.
As crustacean-loving Ralph, Fitzgerald steals the show. His childlike innocence is at once hilarious and troubling. At one point in the movie he shows Imogene a mollusk-like, bulletproof exoskeleton (equipped with Wi-Fi!) he made so that he can feel safe when he goes out in public.
Matt Dillon plays his usual vaguely sleazy character, though it is toned down a bit. As Zelda’s airhead boyfriend George Bousche (pronounced Boosh), Dillon tells the Duncans he works for the CIA and that “Bousche” is just a pseudonym — even he doesn’t remember his own real name! His supporting role is funny without being distracting, and it’s a shame that his character is unfortunately underwritten.
As Lee, the boarder who displaces Imogene, Criss fits the bill. The member of a Backstreet Boys cover band, Lee is convincing — though Criss’ background with “Glee” probably helped tremendously. He is the character the audience will fall in love with. Sassy at times but encouraging when he needs to be, Lee (as one can guess) falls for Imogene. However, unlike the tacky Jersey setting, their relationship is not cheesy at all. In fact, the storyline does not chronicle their relationship. It focuses on the success of Imogene herself, not bothering to muddle the plot with cliched love triangles or affairs.
“Girl Most Likely” demonstrates what most romantic comedies don’t — that a man is not the solution to every problem in a young woman’s life. The movie does not conclude with a grand wedding in the ballroom of a Ritz-Carlton. It does not feature intense sex scenes or awkward dates. This movie is not about love as any type of destination but as a way for one to gain clarity and inspiration to do greater things in life.
Contact Addy Bhasin at [email protected].