Give Kristen Wiig credit: She’s clearly not interested in repeating the Bridesmaids formula. And though Girl Most Likely has, at least on the surface, some plot threads in common with Wiig’s breakthrough movie—she’s a loser who moves home with her mother (Annette Bening)—it’s a decidedly more somber picture.
That’s not to say Girl Most Likely isn’t funny; it has its moments. But any movie that starts with the breakup of a long-term relationship and follows up with a suicide attempt that may or may not be real has its work cut out for it.
Wiig is Imogene, a once-promising playwright whose personal life and career have turned to shit. Actually, her career has gone nowhere for years and she’s fired from her day job. She has a habit of making things worse for herself—e.g., the fake suicide attempt. It doesn’t help that Imogene is surrounded by rotten people, including the ex-boyfriend, and Dara (June Diane Raphael, whose talent is squandered here, even if it’s nice to see her with a large-ish supporting role).
Imogene lands in a psych ward and manages to convince her doctor she’s not a significant risk. In turn, he demands that she stay with her mother, Zelda (Annette Bening), for 72 hours, which is how long he’d have to hold her by law in the hospital.
This story choice is the first of many poor choices in the screenplay. No doctor is going to release a woman on suicide watch to her mother, who, by the way, is a gambling addict. It’s just not happening. There’s suspending disbelief, and then there’s, “Oh, come on.”
The story never really recovers from this first egregious beat, though there are moments that make it seem as if there’s a different, better, more consistent movie still in the editing room. Part of Girl Most Likely’s problem is that it can’t decide whether Imogene is a loser, crazy, depressed, or just has bad luck.
There are also a series of underdeveloped story lines. For example, Matt Dillon pops up as a guy who’s sleeping with Zelda, who says he’s in the CIA and has a cover so absurd it has to be fake. But then it turns out to maybe be real. So which is it, screenwriter Michelle Morgan? A CIA operative may be dumb, but he’s not this dumb.
Then there’s Imogene’s brother, Ralph, who’s an inoffensive manchild who may be mentally challenged. Zelda and Imogene talk about him like he is—they had to look after Ralph who is almost a meme—but he owns his own business and builds armor with wireless Internet access.
Finally, Imogene is redeemed somewhat by having an affair with a younger man (that’s not a spoiler; you’ll see it coming forever). Note to directors and screenwriters: Lead characters—male or female—being redeemed by a younger lover will never not be irritating.
Girl Most Likely isn’t terrible; there are many, many worse movies out there right now. But its indecision as to what it wants to be, along with its dingy look (which may be a conscious choice, but I doubt it), keeps it from being successful.
Girl Most Likely PG-13, 103 minutes, Regal Downtown Mall Cinema 6