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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
The Observer

Weekly Watch: 'Girl Most Likely'

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Sara Shoemake

Netflix movies are always hit or miss — and usually, if the only place you’ve heard of a movie is Netflix, it’s questionable at best. Still, most of these are somewhat enjoyable, if you don’t set your expectations too high. “Girl Most Likely” is one such movie.
There’s no doubt the movie starts out a bit slow — protagonist Imogene's descent into despair is sort of painfully pathetic as you wonder what exactly she thinks she is losing. Her best friend has just started a charity for a seemingly ridiculous cause (what exactly are they fundraising that will stop children from “ever having to break a window again?") and subtly brags after her speech about how she can now be more than a wife. Imogene’s attempts to join the conversation are quickly shot down when her desire to be more than a significant other is called into question by her lack of a ring.

Undoubtedly, Imogene’s devotion to her boyfriend is one of the most questionable parts of her early character. When she claims they aren’t married because he is Dutch and the Dutch are a "progressive people," any audience member can easily discern how he feels about the relationship, even if he’s had less than a minute of screen time.

When Imogene fakes a suicide attempt (with an apparently well-written note and one unidentified pill), I hoped that whatever family she had would show more care for her than all of her Manhattan peers did. It was clear, even before her friend Dara’s subtle attempts at dissuasion, that no help would be coming from her supposed friends.

“Girl Most Likely” is not Kristen Wiig’s most brilliant work. While she normally shines with witty dialogue and over-expressed reactions, Imogene’s character expects her to play the straight-man to an overly ridiculous cast.

However, in typical fashion, Wiig makes the best of what she is given. Her facial expressions and reactions to what goes on around her are priceless, and her “subtle” attempts to steal a book from her local library, right under the eye of the librarian, is one of the best scenes in the movie and one of the few times when Wiig’s talents can shine.

Costume designer Tom Broecker’s styling of Wiig is on point. After her unwilling return to New Jersey, Imogene’s entire adult wardrobe is lost (sent to some unknown place after she is evicted from her apartment), and she is left with only a hospital robe and her high school clothing. The outfits cobbled together from this old wardrobe are hilarious all by themselves, as Imogene moves from an old gym uniform to floral skirts and denim jackets to a brightly-colored dress that shocks her Manhattan friends.

Darren Criss as Lee, the mysterious boarder taken on by Imogene's mother, Zelda, in her daughter's absence, is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the entire movie. From his original entrance (where he is interrupted mid-tryst by Imogene attempting to reclaim her room), Lee is instantly likable and a bright spot in Imogene’s return home.

Lee works as part of a show in Atlantic City which recreates the stars of the 2000s. The show features a performance by a fake Britney Spears, a fake Christina Aguilera and, of course, the Backstreet Boys. Fans of “Glee” will be delighted by Criss’ performance of the classic “Everyone,” complete with the all-white suit and guy-liner.

One low point of the movie is the attempt to reunite Imogene and her brother, Ralph, with their deadbeat dad, Maxwell. Maxwell left Zelda with his two children and asked his ex to tell the pair that he had died. When Ralph and Imogene head to New York for Dara’s book launch, they end up at Duncan’s house and finally meet their missing father. It is, as expected, a bit of a disaster. Ralph is predictably awkward, Imogene can’t stop drinking and Lee is left outside in the car for a questionable amount of time. Whatever comedy was expected to come of this episode falls short, simply making the viewer uncomfortable with a father that clearly wants so little to do with his kids. After all, who thinks it’s a good idea to tell their children that they are dead rather than simply admitting that a separation is happening?

The end of the movie makes up for any comedy lacking earlier. When Imogene finally comes to the rescue of her family, her use of Ralph’s human-size replication of a crab shell is hilarious. So is Ralph’s explanation of it on live news coverage.

In the end, “Girl Most Likely” isn’t the best movie to be found on Netflix, but it is amusing for a lazy night in. It’s everything you could ever want from an unknown Netflix movie — kind of terrible but entertaining anyway.