All hot streaks must come to an end — or at least hit a temporary speed bump. Kristen Wiig hits hers in the surprisingly unfunny new film, Girl Most Likely. A rare, laughless misstep for the SNL veteran after the smash-hit success of 2011’s Bridesmaids, the comedy doesn’t seem to know whether it wants to be quirky, heartfelt, or even a comedy at all.
As the film opens, Wiig’s Imogene is a smart-set Manhattanite getting ready to meet her handsome foreign boyfriend, Peter (Brian Petsos), at a fancy charity soirée. Her life seems as charmed as any chick-lit fantasy. But then she’s hit with a one-two punch as Mr. Right dumps her and she gets fired from her magazine job. Desperate to win Peter back, she fakes a suicide attempt, which lands her in the hospital, where she’s told that she can’t be released until a family member comes and promises to look after her. Enter Annette Bening as Imogene’s garish, Jersey Shore mother, Zelda.
One of the sole highlights in the film, Bening’s Zelda looks like she just walked out of Married to the Mob. With her tacky earrings, sequined tops, and broad Garden State accent, Zelda is a true piece of work. When Imogene walks back into her childhood home, she’s reunited with her socially awkward brother Ralph (Christopher Fitzgerald), who’s obsessed with hermit crabs and is building a crab-like shell for himself. She also meets a couple of new tenants: Matt Dillon’s ”The Bosche” (they pronounce it ”bouche”), a blowhard who is sleeping with Zelda and claims to be a CIA agent, and Lee (Darren Criss) a hunky Yale graduate who’s now working at a casino as the lip-syncing lead singer of a Backstreet Boys tribute act. Going by these kooky characters, one might assume that hilarity ensues. It doesn’t.
Instead, they’re merely the shakily-built scaffolding for a story about Imogene finding herself, healing her relationship with her mother, and learning some timeless truths about life. But do all of the jokes on her personal journey of discovery have to fall so flat? Wiig didn’t write the script for Girl Most Likely, but surely all those years of making tangy lemonade from the SNL writing staff’s lemons must have given her the chops to do more than she manages to do here. What a shame. C