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MOVIE REVIEW: Few laughs for a failed New York writer who returns home in 'Girl Most Likely'

By: roger moore McClatchy Newspapers
July 18, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2013 at 2:20 pm
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photo - A failed playwright gets laid off her New York City job, and must go back home to live with her mother (Annette Bening) in "Girl Most Likely." Courtesy Maven Pictures.
A failed playwright gets laid off her New York City job, and must go back home to live with her mother (Annette Bening) in "Girl Most Likely." Courtesy Maven Pictures. 

"Girl Most Likely" is a comedy from Kristen Wiig's alternate universe career - the career she might have had without the hit "Bridesmaids."

A daft, thin and instantly forgettable farce about a woman of once-great promise who fakes a suicide attempt to hang on to a beau who is bailing on her, it's the sort of movie that has its Manhattan heroine turn out to be from New Jersey - as if that's all it takes for hilarity to ensue. It relies on Wiig's charms, Matt Dillon's wackiness and lot of examples of that favorite crutch of underwhelming romantic comedy directors - cute time-lapse montages set to pop music.

Imogene (Wiig) is a blurb writer for the arts section of a New York magazine. It's not exactly where she saw herself 10 years ago, when her student play was winning acclaim and her future seemed bright.

And then she's fired from that blurb gig. Good thing she has her beau (Brian Petsos) to lean on. Only she doesn't. He's dumping her, no matter how much she pleads "I don't really trust myself to be alone right now."

Getting dolled up, writing a note and taking sleeping pills on the hope that he will be the one to discover and save her doesn't work out, either. The hospital promptly "sentences" her to be taken home by her estranged mother.

Annette Bening is the blowsy, brassy Ocean City mom Imogene so wanted to escape. Zelda's living with a blowhard (Matt Dillon) who whispers to one and all that he's a CIA hitman. And they're all sharing the rattletrap Jersey Shore house with Imogene's special-needs brother (Christopher Fitzgerald). Imogone's old room? Zelda rented it out to hunky young club entertainer Lee (Darren Criss of "Glee").

"Girl Most Likely" tracks Imogene's flailing attempts to hang onto her wealthier, shallower New York mean-girl friends, her tentative attraction to the supportive Lee and her efforts to make sense of a life that had so much promise and went so wrong.

Wiig does this ugly-duckling-who-doesn't-think-she-deserves-the-guy thing well. But usually she dresses down so much we believe her ordinariness. In this film, she's wearing Bullock-level makeup in every shot,.

Her Imogene never lets us believe she's as unhinged as she claims to be. And co-directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini ("American Splendor," "The Extra Man") never find the right balance between pathos and farce.

They compound their frustration at this by hurling pop-music montages to try and put a head on this flatter-than-flat beer.

Whatever their other gifts, they cannot find the fizz here. They never get Wiig to commit to the sort of film that she, even when she was making it, must have realized was beneath her in her post-"Bridesmaids" glory.

"girl most likely"

Cast: Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, Matt Dillon, Darren Criss

Directors: Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini

Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes

Rated: PG-13 for sexual content and language

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