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Girl Most Likely’ squanders Kristen Wiig’s talents

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Kristen Wiig and Annette Bening do what they can in Girl Most Likely.
Mike D'Angelo

Two stars

Girl Most Likely Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, Matt Dillon. Directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday.

Kristen Wiig was such a bizarre, idiosyncratic presence on Saturday Night Live that it’s painful to watch movies work overtime to smooth over her rough edges. In Girl Most Likely, Wiig plays Imogene (the film’s original title), a failed playwright who fakes a suicide attempt in the hope that it’ll force her ex-boyfriend (Brian Petsos) to take her back. Already, we’re in the world of kooky contrivance rather than gonzo craziness—the SNL version of this idea would likely involve escalating self-violence—but there’s more. A call to 911 lands Imogene in the hospital, which will only release her into the custody of her super-flaky, ultra-tacky New Joisey mom (Annette Bening). And so it is that we get to watch one of today’s most original comic voices plod her way through a trite tale about embracing your family and past.

The actors do their best with the dreck they’re given. Matt Dillon, who’s become a reliable numbskull foil since reinventing his career in There’s Something About Mary, has an agreeably spacey vibe as Imogene’s mom’s boyfriend, and Wiig is too spiky a presence to be completely subsumed by the screenplay’s episodic blandness, which is punctuated by ideas too mindlessly quirky even for late-night sketch comedy. (Imogene’s arthropod-obsessed brother and his full-body, Wi-Fi-enabled crab suit represent the nadir.) But it’s still disheartening to see performers capable of so much wrestle with so little. Wiig should be the contemporary Bill Murray, but Girl Most Likely tries to turn her into a 21st-century Chevy Chase.

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