Even though this comedy has a tendency to dip into cartoonish silliness, it's anchored by a razor-sharp performance by Wiig as a woman forced to confront everything she hates about herself. The film is also packed with hilarious moments that keep us laughing, and it also gets surprisingly sexy and emotional along the way.
Wiig plays Imogene, who has done nothing with her career after winning a rising-star playwright award. Then she loses her day job as a listings editor just as her high-flier boyfriend (Petsos) leaves her. When she fakes a suicide attempt to get some attention, she's court-ordered to move in with her free-spirited mother Zelda (Bening) back home in New Jersey. There she struggles with Zelda's colourful boyfriend George (Dillon), who claims to be a top-secret spy, her goofy-inventor brother Ralph (Fitzgerald) and the smart, sexy and very young lodger Lee (Criss) who rents her old bedroom. But just as she's beginning to cope, a family secret shakes her to the core.
Even as the script strains to be improbably zany, Wiig holds the film together with a startlingly honest comical turn. From the start we knew she didn't fit in with her Manhattan friends, and her slightly out-of-control personality is much more suited to the Jersey Shore. Her scenes with Criss are very nicely played, as they develop an unexpected relationship. By contrast, Bening struggles to appear as dim as Zelda seems to be, while Dillon hams it up as her fantasist toy boy and Fitzgerald's Ralph is so nutty that he seems to be from another movie altogether.
These jarring shifts from corny wackiness to earthy black comedy are hard to take, but directors Berman and Pulcini just about paper over the cracks thanks to Wiig. It's also a rare film that refreshingly refuses to make all the characters into expected stereotypes: these sparky people veer far off the beaten path, so they're a lot of fun to watch. And it helps that the film's darker emotional core gives it something meaningful to say.
Run time: 103 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 18th July 2013
Box Office USA: $1.4M
Distributed by: Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions
Production compaines: Maven Pictures, Anonymous Content, Ambush Entertainment, Foggy Bottom Pictures, 10th Hole Productions
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 21%
Fresh: 19 Rotten: 71
IMDB: 5.7 / 10
Screenwriter: Michelle Morgan
Starring: Kristen Wiig as Imogene, Annette Bening as Zelda, Matt Dillon as George, Darren Criss as Lee, Christopher Fitzgerald as Ralph, June Diane Raphael as Dara, Natasha Lyonne as Allyson, Bob Balaban as Maxwell, Sydney Lucas as Little Imogene, Ilana Levine as Teacher, Jimmy Palumbo as Doorman Joe, Michelle Morgan as Georgina, Mickey Sumner as Hannah, Elizabeth Ingrahm as Sloane, Brian Petsos as Peter Van Woodsen, Murray Bartlett as James Whitney, Melissa Navia as Assistant, Michelle Hurd as Libby, Jennifer Fox as Hotel Clerk, Cynthia Nixon as Herself, Reed Birney as Dr. Chalmers, Manny Silverio as Gino, Nnamdi Nwosa as Bruce, Clare Galterio as Announcer, Akira Takayama as Casino Gambler, Helmar Augustus Cooper as Delancey Security Guard (as Helmar Cooper), Tandy Cronyn as Hermione, Nicole Patrick as Monica, Bronson as Hermit Crab, Nate Corddry as Larry Feinstein, Mike Keller as NJ Cop / T-Rex Rinaldi, Henriette Mantel as Female Police Officer, Antwayn Hopper as Emcee, Katie Webber as Britney Spears / Charlotte, Jonathan M. Cooper as Backstreet Boy #1, Felix Hess as Backstreet Boy #2, Jake Dupree as Backstreet Boy #3, Ian Klein as Backstreet Boy #4, Jonny Orsini as Nick, Julia Macchio as Lucy, Emma Myles as Hippie Girl, Padma Lakshmi as Herself, Frank Pando as NYPD Police Officer #1, Daniella Van Graas as Cecille, Aliya Carter as NYPD Police Officer #2, Betty Hudson as Housekeeper, Ronald Guttman as Armando, Mike Gillman as Male Anchor, Jessica Abo as Michelle Connors, Julia Stiles as Stage Imogene, Andrea Martin as Stage Zelda, Graeme Malcolm as Culture Vulture, Whit Stillman as Himself, Patricia Kalember as Virginia, Marceline Hugot as Librarian