Moviegoers seeking any semblance of human behavior should give a wide berth to “Girl Most Likely,” a cartoonish parade of gargoyles and grotesques helmed with staggering ineptitude by the once-promising Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini.
Kristen Wiig stars as Imogene, a failed playwright who now pens PR blurbs and clings to her emotionally fading Wall Street boyfriend. Hers is a status-obsessed Manhattan nightlife of book parties and museum galas, fending off passive-aggressive barbs from a gaggle of wealthier, more pedigreed frenemies.
After getting dumped, Imogene fakes a suicide attempt to try and win her man back, a childish stunt that backfires and leaves her remanded to the care of her estranged mother Zelda (Annette Bening,) a gambling-addicted floozy who still resides in their dreaded hometown of Ocean City, New Jersey. Michelle Morgan’s screenplay traffics in antiquated “Joisey” stereotypes, with the majority of the movie requiring Wiig to turn up her nose and mumble deadpan put-downs of overweight seaside denizens in loud-print clothing who listen to Bruce Springsteen.
Matt Dillon embarrasses himself as Zelda’s latest squeeze, a bug-eyed horndog claiming to be a CIA assassin named “George Boosh.” He also claims to be a time-traveling samurai. Imogene’s man-child brother Ralph (Christopher Fitzgerald) is too frightened to venture beyond the boardwalk, obsessed with the evolutionary self-protective qualities of mollusks and building for himself a bullet-proof, wi-fi enabled, human-sized crab shell.
If all this sounds horribly strained, that’s because it is. “Girl Most Likely” piles on the over-written quirks and labored affectations with steam-rolling relentlessness, even manufacturing a love interest (Glee’s Damian Criss) who once upon a time went to Yale but now fronts a Backstreet Boys cover-band. It’s only a matter of time before Imogene busts out her old denim vest and tacky frocks, realizing “there’s no place like home,” as foreshadowed by the movie’s constant “Wizard Of Oz” references.
Ten years ago Berman and Pulcini made a splash with “American Splendor,” a formally adventurous adaptation of Harvey Pekar’s quotidian comic strip. But since then each film has been worse than the last, “The Nanny Diaries” and “The Extra Man” finally bottoming out with “Girl Most Likely.” Re-titled after premiering as “Imogene” to crummy reviews at last year’s Toronto Film Festival, here is a movie so baseline incompetent that scenes don’t cut together and the wobbly camera has a hard time keeping actors in focus for an entire shot. Crushingly unfunny, it’s a must to avoid.
“Girl Most Likely”
Directors: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Stars: Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, Matt Dillon
Grade: One out of five globes