Kristen Wiig, Annette Benning, Matt Dillion, Christopher Fitzgerald & introducing Darren Criss in his premiere film role; sounds like the recipe for success if you ask me!
So when this PopWrapped staffer heard that Imogene or Girl Most Likely (as it is called now) was coming to the Toronto International Film Festival last September, I KNEW I had to go check it out. So I did, twice! The first time was actually the World Premiere Screening with some of the cast & directors in attendance. They rolled out the red carpet and gave everyone a warm Canadian welcome.
But let’s talk about what you really came here to find out about, how is the movie, and how much Darren Criss do you get to see in it? (SPOILER ALERT: a fair amount!)
So Kristen Wiig plays Imogene, the main (and title) character. She appears to have had a fairytale career story, having won a grant to develop a script and have it performed. She was given a year to carry the whole endeavor off. Unfortunately for Imogene, that’s where everything starts to go wrong; writer’s block kicks in and the inspiration that helped her become one of NYC’s ‘Writers to Watch’ is lost. On top of that, she gets fired from her job; apparently, people don’t want full-fledged opinions as a part of their ‘What To Do In NYC’ listings, especially snarky ones. Oh, AND her boyfriend dumped her!
It seems like nothing is coming up Imogene so she does what any girl would do to get her boyfriend back, fake a suicide attempt. Maybe Imogene is a better writer (and actress) then she is given credit for though because her very convincing suicide note gets her on watch at the hospital. ‘Lucky’ for Imogene, the hospital is experiencing an overcrowding problem and the doctor wants to release her into the care of a loved one/family member! Unlucky for Imogene that family member is probably the LAST person Imogene ever wanted to see, especially now, her mother Zelda (played by Annette Benning)! It becomes clear pretty quickly why Imogene wouldn’t want to associate with her mother. Although she seems well intentioned, at the same time Imogene’s mother looks like Snooki & J-Wow got their overly manicured ladyclaws into her and made her up as the poster woman for the Jersey Shore. Despite that, I have to say that Annette looks phenomenal, talk about aging gracefully!
So after a less than sane reaction from Imogene at the mere sight of her mother, (let’s just say there was a takedown and low grade tranquilizers involved) Imogene is released into her mother’s care and they are headed back to Jersey! Since her daughter is down for the count anyway, Zelda heads off to her favourite spot, the casino (oh yeah, she has a gambling problem by the way!). Imagine how it must have felt to be Imogene, waking up in the back seat of her mom’s car in a random parking garage! What ensues is a hilarious scene on the casino floor of Imogene accusing her mother of kidnapping her and a really confused security guard who didn’t even know Zelda had a daughter!
When the duo finally get back to the family home Imogene finds out that appearances can be deceiving, and although everything appears the same, a lot has actually changed since she left home. The first big change is The Bouche (Matt Dillion)– her mom’s new beau. He is apparently a CIA agent who cannot reveal his true identity (DUH) but he looks like that Italian Uncle that works down at the local drycleaners, always wearing ‘ironic’ bowling shirts, seems totally legit right? After that introduction, Imogene is in complete shock to find out that her old bedroom isn’t hers anymore – Zelda has rented it out to a boarder (probably to feed her gambling problem)! Enter Darren Criss aka Lee (yeah last names are in short supply in this film) in a compromising position, making out with a random girl on Imogene’s old bed! Cue the fangirl screams and pleads of “Why can’t
Ibe that girl!!!” Sorry ladies!
We also get introduced to Imogene’s brother Ralph (Christopher Fitzgerald) who, in my opinion, provides the best performance in the whole movie. Ralph leads a simple life on the Jersey Shore boardwalk with his crab stall. It is unstated (but kind of a given) that Ralph has some kind of intellectual/developmental delay but it is not made light of, not really even discussed/mentioned at all, it is just there, to be left to for the audience to interpret how they see fit. What it did for me is create an endearing character who has the sweetest relationship with his sister.
Left with no place to sleep, Ralph offers to build Imogene a ‘deluxe blanket fort’ in the living room, complete with a privacy door! Should be enough to keep the noises at bay right? And if you were wondering about Kristen Wiig’s wardrobe in the movie, when at home she only has access to her clothes from high school, cue 80s fashions galore!
Not amused with her family at all, Imogene plots her return to NYC as fast as she can, any way she can. But without a car, her wallet or anything besides her old yearbooks and dated clothes she’s going to need some help; enter the ever so friendly Lee. P.S. he’ll have you know he changes his bed sheets daily! And please don’t call him a man-slut - he gets slightly offended. Anyway, Imogene pleads with Lee to take her back into the city so she can back into her apartment and begin to get her life back in order.
Feeling for her situation, Lee gives in and they drive into the city. Lee is so nice that he agrees to hang in his car while Imogene fights to get back into her apartment after she says he is ‘too Jersey’ for the upcrust New York persona she has developed for herself.
Now there are bad weeks and there are Imogene bad weeks, about a million times worse than the average. Turns out Imogene has been a bad girl, not paying her rent on time which means that she is SOL when it comes to the things in her apartment. Determined not to be defeated, Imogene has Lee drive her to her (supposed) best friend’s house for help, she was the one who discovered her on her ‘death bed’ after all! Turns out her friend Georgina is more of a fair-weather friend than anything else, refusing to let het crash with her and her boyfriend while she attempts to put her life back together. She is then all but challenged to show up to this party at the end of the week that all of her New York friends and ex-boyfriend are going to be at. Imogene storms out of there and Lee drives them back to Jersey, seemingly worse off than when they got there.
After a day of disappointments, Imogene could pretty much use any sort of news to make her life turn around. I guess that is what The Bouche was trying to do when he let it slip that Imogene & Ralph’s father is actually still alive, not dead like Zelda has been telling them for years. Imogene has the complete opposite reaction though, blowing her top and ‘stealing’ her mother’s car and heading off to the library to ‘find her father.’ (he’s an author, so totally not weird). The scenes that follow are weird. There is this crazy stand off at the library between Imogene and the librarian where Imogene ends up running off with her father’s book tucked under her shirt. Like why not just borrow it for FREE? I don’t understand. In Imogene’s haste to get away she rear-ends an expensive car, upsetting the owner but she hits on the police officer to try and get herself out of the whole thing. The whole exchange is Bridesmaids awkward and reminded me of the scene where Kristen Wiig’s character has the ‘speech off’ at the engagement party; it was that cringe worthy. Anyway, Imogene can’t talk her way out of the stolen car accusation, seems like Zelda, the gambling addict, is also one of the most loved people in town.
Even if Imogene hates her mother and The Bouche, she still has her brother to love and hang out with. There is this really touching scene where Imogene visits Ralph at his crab stand on the boardwalk. She finds out he has a crush on the girl in the next stall and helps out his game to score him a date. What are sisters for anyway?
To Be Continued in Part Two…..