Socialite Imogene’s world falls apart when her boyfriend dumps her and she loses her job, leading to a meltdown that takes her back to her home in New Jersey to stay with her eccentric family.
Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, 2012
Imogene (Kristen Wiig) is living in New York with her boyfriend Peter (Brian Petsos), attending parties and living as far from her upbringing in New Jersey as she can manage, when Peter unexpectedly dumps her. She’s subsequently fired from her job for overwriting, then fakes a suicide attempt to get Peter to come over (yes, really). The attempt gets her hospitalised, and the hospital contacts her gambler mother Zelda (Annette Bening) to pick her up. Zelda brings her back to her childhood home, where things have changed; Zelda’s got a posturing live-in boyfriend called George Boosh (Matt Dillon) and rents out her room to Backstreet Boys impersonator Lee (Darren Criss!!!!!!!). There are more surprises on the way: Imogene’s father is still alive, so she sets out to find him, getting evicted and arrested along the way. Relaxed Lee proves a good counterpoint to the madness and she spends more and more time with him, eventually hooking up with him. He finds her old writing and encourages her to go back into playwriting (word? Not a word? Don’t ask me, I’m not a playwright) and she discovers something about family.
For a comedy, this was a remarkably unfunny movie. Not just trying to be humourous and failing, but flat-out depressingly unfunny. It’s another movie with a lot of disparate elements that don’t gel, but that isn’t the main problem. It’s a mean-spirited movie about an unpleasant woman. Christopher Fitzgerald does a good job as Imogene’s brother Ralph, the only person with whom Imogene seems to have a genuine, warm relationship, and Darren Criss oozes charm and talent and sexiness and so much pretty as Lee. So pretty. Sorry. Where was I? Acting. Annette Bening puts a lot into Zelda, but we don’t get much out of it, and Matt Dillon’s Boosh is a one-joke pony (hint: the joke’s in the name. It’s not funny the first time, let alone the other hundred times it’s mentioned in the film). It seems like everyone is making a different movie; Kristen Wiig is wet and po-faced in the lead, and she’s usually great. The material she’s working with isn’t up to the usual standard, though, so it’s not surprising. It’s hard to understand why anyone would like the self-pitying, miserable Imogene, particularly after faking a suicide attempt (for which she never seems particularly sorry – the people she fools are awful, but that doesn’t make her awfulness acceptable).
I laughed once in this film: Lee hears the Backstreet Boys on the radio and turns it off. Watching Imogene walk around in her old 90s clothes is moderately amusing for a while, particularly in how they avoid cliches in favour of denim vests and high-waisted shorts. The rest of the film is just sad – not shocking enough to be a good black comedy, not witty enough in its writing, not light enough to be amusing. It’s kind of like watching a car wreck; you want to look away but you just have to see how badly Imogene is going to screw things up. A couple of times it seems like it might be finally over, only for another unnecessary scene to pop up. While Imogene and Ralph’s reunion with their dad, played admirably by Bob Balaban, is a welcome catharsis and introduces some interesting ideas, the subsequent scenes are ridiculous and feel like they’re transplanted in from some other movie with the same characters. Possibly more than one other movie. I hope I’ll get to see Darren in a better movie soon, because this was just disappointing all around.
Girl Most Likely on IMDb