The presence of Kristen Wiig helps salvage this lazy femme riff on the slacker comedy.
Watching a woman in her late thirties flopping round her mother's chintz-filled house in grey sweats is thrilling, particularly when the woman has the slack-jawed, facial elasticity of Kristen Wiig. The status quo still promotes the idea that by a certain age, all career women, like Wiig's character Imogene, have blossomed into socially unimpeachable success stories, eligible for lifestyle spreads in high-end magazines.
By planting a female at the centre of a slacker comedy, Girl Most Likely offers a breath of fresh air. Listen up, Jeff, Who Lives At Home and the early work of Judd Apatow and Kevin Smith. Women are just as likely as men to underachieve, have unique foibles, and wear rumpled outfits sourced from far-flung corners of the bedroom. If this sounds like a tokenistic celebration of the film learned critics in the US have been ritually mauling, then it's a sign we're starved for tokens.
Yet the problems begin early in husband-and-wife directors Shari Springer and Robert Pulcini's film via the flimsiness of the world where we first find Imogene. Her New Yorker literary set pals are clearly villains from the get go, goggling judgementally at her every gaffe while long-term boyfriend Peter (Brian Petsos) cuts her off as casually as if she were the label on a new shirt. It feels preposterous that anyone could have built a life on such unreliable foundations, not least the shrewd if highly-bumbling character that Wiig makes fully dimensional.
Crumbling foundations mean Imogene is sent kicking and screaming in a hospital gown back to her sunny, gambling addict mother, Zelda (Annette Bening) in New Jersey. This unsophisticated environment means grey sweats and the bursting to the surface of avoided family issues. Like Frances Ha, this is a coming-of-ager for an over-ager, yet if Imogene's circle in New York were too black and white, the problem at home is the too-bright-to-be-believed colours.
Simple brother is building a giant crab outfit, Zelda's boyfriend George Bousche claims to be working for the CIA and, despite his Ivy League education, the obligingly sexy young lodger performs in a Backstreet Boys tribute act. An MIA father and the need for closure in New York provides the engine for Imogene to run around messily reconciling who she thinks she should be with who she is.
It's an admirable spine and there are laughs along the way thanks to Wiig's deadpan presence in nearly every scene. This casting was the directors' finest move, for without their leading lady, the implausible sub-plots and scenarios would collapse in on themselves. With her it all just about holds up.
16 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. No one like this film.
Conceptually flawed but perfectly good-natured and occasionally funny.
We kinda like this film. Maybe Rotten Tomatoes will go up to 17 percent now.