Saturday, July 27, 2013

"Gril Most Likely": Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions go after bigger, if sometimes more stereotyped, films; this comedic contrivance starts with a good idea

The idea of a has-been writer or playwright now not paying her own way and maybe looking for something new to say, sounds important.  Take that concept and try to concoct a story to make it funny, into a near situation comedy.  That was the commercial task taken up by screenwriter Michelle Morgan and directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini in the new comedy “Girl Most Likely”, another “mainstream” collaboration between Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.  Both of these companies now have new legal music trademarks.
Kristen Wiig looks surprisingly over the hill as playwright Imogene, who, in an opening scene, is coaching kids to follow her direction in saying lines they don’t like (something about the Wizard of Oz).  He get the idea that her own ideas have already gone stale.  Soon, she sits in front of her boss, who, toying with a thin iPad, rebukes her for injecting her own views into the Broadway reviews she was hired to write and fires her. That particular scene is dramatic and well-acted.  
One problem is that she is so self-indulgent  A half-hearted pill-taking attempt lands her in the psych ward as an m.p., and she’s released to the custody of her even more obviously aged mother  Zelda (Annette Benning), and taken back to her beach home in Ocean City, NJ (before Sandy, but the film end credits congratulates the residents of the NJ coast and perhaps Chris Christie for rebuilding quickly).   So it’s back home to mommy.  But in mommy dearest’s home there is a new cast of characters.  There’s baby brother Ralph (Christopher Fitzgerald), who operates as a seaside vendor and has invented the WiFi "crab" shell to live in, which will figure into the climax.  There is Annette’s boyfriend George the Bousche (Matt Dillon, who looks a little heavier than he did in “Rumble Fish” decades ago, and hairier, despite a lightning strike that he relates as part of his secret agent work).   And there’s an attractive renter Lee (Darren Criss), who presents the obvious “younger man” opportunity for Imogene.  Lee runs a boy band and sings for tips in clubs, and takes her back to New York to try to get her stuff.

One other piece of the plot concerns Zelda’s lifelong lie, that Imogene’s father is dead. The trips back to the Big Apple develop the idea that the dad is himself a Salinger-style rich reclusive author (Bob Balaban) who wrote a cynical bestseller “The Myth of Thanksgiving”.

The official site is here. The film (from Maven, Anonymous Content, and Ambush Entertainment) had originally been titled "Imogene" at Toronto (story). 

The rather substantial Friday night show audience at the Angelika Mosaic laughed with the movie, but I found Imogene’s helplessness , vomiting, and tendency to show up and beg (at friend’s apartment doors) rather annoying.

Check the new Lionsgate intro here  and Roadside Attractions here  The Lionsgate reaches for the skies, although I like the “machinery” logo that opens up on the real Lionsgate in Greece, under the heavenly clouds. The studio has acquired Summit Entertainment and seems to be going for much larger films than it did a few years ago.  Indie Wire says that Lionsgate also acquired part of Roadside, and explains their team relationship here. Roadside Attractions is on Blogger, but hasn’t maintained the Blog since 2009, here.  The company really should keep this blog up.  Should I be hired to do it for them?  (LOL!)

Photo: Seaside Heights, NJ (mine, March 2013). 

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