“Girl Most Likely,” a dysfunctional family comedy starring Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening and Matt Dillon, proves that you can take the girl out of New Jersey, but you can’t take the New Jersey out of the girl.
Wiig stars as Imogene, a wannabe New York playwright. Years before she won a prestigious award but the promise of a distinguished career in the theatre evaporated, leaving her with a cheating boyfriend, some high society friends who sneer at her behind her back and an inferiority complex.
Hitting rock bottom she’s forced to move back home, to Ocean City, New Jersey with her eccentric mother (Bening), younger brother (Christopher Fitzgerald) and assorted boyfriends (Dillon) and roomers (Darren Criss).
Living with mom stirs up some old memories, reveals some new truths and makes her more determined than ever to get back to the bright lights of NYC… if she can find a way to break free of her roots.
“Girl Most Likely” is a frustrating movie because it comes so close to being a home run, but doesn’t quite make it to home base. Co-directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini have assembled a great, charismatic cast but given them a script that relies on quirk rather than depth to make its point.
Narcissistic characters can be fascinating on screen—think “American Psycho’s” Patrick Bateman or Gregory Anton from “Gaslight” or even “The Princess Bride’s” Vizzini—but the psychological issues that drive them have to resonate, or at least be apparent and that’s where “Girl Most Likely” fails.
It’s a narcissistic cesspool played for laughs without ever really giving us the dark background that feeds the self-absorbed behavior on display. There are hints along the way but they are over shadowed by a plot that relies on idiosyncratic twists, like a brother who specializes in mollusk protection methods and a mysterious stranger who may, or may not, be an international spy.
Paring down the eccentricity and upping the realistic elements of the story would have allowed the performances to shine brighter and made “Girl Most Likely” a more satisfying movie.