Kristen Wiig’s performance in Girl Most Likely (2012) is oddly reminiscent of Tina Fey’s turn in 2010’s Date Night. Here is a natural comedienne with a successful background in comedy writing and acting lumbered with a terrible screenplay, crushing any hope of enjoyment or laughs. Wiig stars as Imogene, a supposedly talented writer whose career has flat-lined, but chooses to surround herself with the rich and famous. Denying her humbler roots, Imogene feels these snobbish types are “her people”, although they’re the first to turn their backs when she loses her job and is dumped by her fiancé in one fell swoop.
Faking her own suicide to get her fiancé’s attention backfires, Imogene is deemed mentally unstable and is consequently forced to return to the family home in New Jersey. Her mother (the usually fantastic Annette Bening) is now sharing Imogene’s childhood home with her boyfriend (Matt Dillon) and Imogene’s brother, Ralph (Christopher Fitzgerald), whose weird behaviour is never explained but is instead referenced to as though he was a burden or a problem child.
Imogene finds her room is pretty much the same as she left it, with the addition of a random tenant named Lee (Darren Criss), who moonlights as one quarter of a Backstreet Boys tribute act. Despite Imogene’s prickly demeanour and lack of any kind of sexual chemistry, the pair somehow warm to each other and drive off with Ralph to find their estranged father. The failing components of Girl Most Likely are clearly not in the premise, and this could have been a good film with an engaging story had the script been better. Imogene’s lines are pleasingly deadpan and well-delivered well Wiig, whilst her ex-best friend Dara (June Diane Raphael) sets herself apart with her performance – but these are the only real positives.
Bening’s turn is confused at best and Criss’ character is too jarringly ‘boy-next-door’, making absolutely no sense amongst this highly dysfunctional family. It appears Wiig may have tried to steer herself into quirky indie territory with this project, but writer Michelle Morgan’s content fails to strike the right balance between amusing and sad. Instead, we just get the set-up for a funny scene that never takes off, with the audience is left wondering what exactly they’re meant to have taken from the whole bleak experience.
After some consideration, one can only conclude that Morgan – along with directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini – are consciously attempting to invite audiences to challenge their concept of normality, but this particular misfire’s stuttering dénouement only further fails to convince us that dysfunctional is, in fact, appealing. Girl Most Likely falls flat on almost all counts, its one saving grace being Wiig herself – an actress who appreciates the beauty of subtlety, and just about saves her latest movie from complete disaster.