Girl Most Likely

Kristen Wiig is terrific. She is funny. She’s a pretty woman who’s not vain. This is obvious from her work on SNL and in films. In Girl Most Likely, she brings her charm and goofiness to a quirky, disjointed movie. Does it work? Well, sort of.

Girl Most Likely stars Wiig as Imogene Duncan. She has talent as a playwright, gets a fellowship, but her dysfunctional upbringing sabotages her big opportunity in New York. When a boyfriend dumps her, she fakes a suicide to get his attention. Because she writes such a convincing suicide note, she is detained in a psych ward before being released to the custody of her mother.

Mom, Zelda (Annette Bening), is a mess: an OCD gambling addict who has hooked up at her Ocean City, New Jersey, home with the mysterious George (Matt Dillon). Also in the home are Imogene’s dorky brother Ralph (Christopher Fitzgerald) and a boarder, Lee (Darrin Criss).

The homecoming has mixed results. Imogene takes mom’s car and heads back to NYC but doesn’t get very far before wrecking it. Her initial disdain for the boarder Lee melts away when she sees him perform in his Backstreet Boys impersonation group and he takes her out with friends for drinks and dancing.

Lee takes Imogene and Ralph into NYC on a special mission (not to be revealed here), which yields big disappointment. The return to the shore leads to the film’s climactic scene and a resolution of sorts.

Girl Most Likely is a movie that I’d guess certain individuals might warmly embrace, because of its cast of weird, zany characters and an offbeat, unlikely plot. Some may appreciate the fact that Imogene’s quest has parallels to the Wizard of Oz story. In fact, it begins with a childhood version of Imogene reciting the words “There’s no place like home.”

A big problem with Girl Most Likely is that some of its humor is not quite as funny as it should be. When you shoot for guffaws but only elicit snickers, you’ve missed your mark. But despite this shortcoming, it’s great to have Wiig, who knocked it out of the park in 2011’s Bridesmaids (and was tremendous in the less-seen 2011 film Paul), back on the big screen.

(Yes, I know, she’s been back for a couple of weeks in Despicable Me 2, but voice acting is different.)

 

 

 

Not Fade Away

How many young American males started playing guitars or drums in the 60’s and then formed rock groups? After seeing the Beatles and the Stones, as well as successful American rock groups, and the responses of girls to the bands, it was almost a natural progression.

Not Fade Away is autobiographical fiction that tells the story of a young man in a rock band in New Jersey in the second half of the 1960’s. From the rehearsals in garages, to the first gigs in basement corners, to meetings with agents, to the eventual journey to the west coast.

Writer/director David Chase was in such a band. The story is not particularly compelling, but Not Fade Away captures the mood and feel of the 60’s with amazing accuracy. Arguments with parents about the Vietnam War and comments from dads about long hair are parts of the 60’s many of us recall.

Of course, the centerpiece of the movie is the music. I loved hearing forgotten 60’s hits like Pretty Ballerina by Left Banke and Itchykoo Park by Small Faces.

Not Fade Away is a period piece that is more about recapturing the feel of those memorable years in Chase’s life than it is about characters and plot. For most baby boomers, especially those who loved the music of the era, Not Fade Away is a fun trip back in time.