In the movie, Kristen Wiig plays failed New York playwright Imogene who, after faking a suicide, is sent to live with her mother and brother in Atlantic City, New Jersey where she finds out who her real friends and family are.
The humor in the movie is dry. Normally, I can handle dry"”I like dry"” but this film is as dry as the Sahara. I know a lot of the scenes are supposed to be hilarious (and I only assume that because the elderly ladies in the audience were laughing like there was no tomorrow). This is one of those times where the acting and directing are superb, but the writing killed it. The last five minutes are the best"” and not because the movie was over"” but it felt like the writers went "Oh no!! We need to wrap this up! Throw all the good jokes in there now!" and wrapped everything up in a nice, little bow. It ends up feeling very forced like every other joke in the movie.
Writing aside, the acting is superb. Annette Benning is phenomenal. She could act out the take out menu for a Chinese restaurant and people would still think "possible Oscar performance?" Her role as Zelda, Imogene's gambling addicted mother from New Jersey, could have been played as a completly unlikeable character, but Benning makes you really start to feel for her. Wiig's performance as Imogene really makes you feel for her as a wannabe that is really trying to be something more. However, when you're saddled with the word "potential", people tend to crumble, and that is what she does in the movie, until the end when BOOM! Happy ending. Matt Dillon's role as Zelda's CIA boyfriend is short, small, but very satisfying. He wasn't given much, but what he was given he really took and ran with. Darren Criss, as eventual Imogene love-interest Lee, did a very good job in his first big movie. Of course he has his two singing scenes, but they are delivered with such sincerity that you forget that he is the guy from Glee. You really believe that he is singing for A)his job and B) to impress Imogene. The performance that, for me, stole the show is by Christopher Fitzgerald as Imogene's slightly eccentric brother Ralph. You can't help but fall in love with him, and the whole movie you hope nothing but the very best for him. I couldn't help but love it when Kristen Wiig steps up to the proverbial plate and both helps and defends her brother. He brings an earnest presentation of this character that you find yourself rooting for him just slightly more than Imogene, and she's supposed to be the star of the show.
When you watch the movie, it's clear that the director loves New York and the boardwalk in New Jersey. The shots that are used show the beauty of New York and the honesty of New Jersey. Also, the opening sequence being shot from Wiig's point of view is, for some reason, a much needed breath of fresh air.
In the end, I would recommend waiting for DVD or cable for this movie. Nothing to rush out to watch, but that is entirely up to you. People in the audience seemed to love jokes that I felt had no punchline or anything funny in it at all. Fans of any of the actors might not feel like they wasted their time after walking out, but when I walked out I felt blasé about the movie. Much like Imogene's life for about 98% of the movie I wasn't sad, but I wasn't happy about life in the movie. I was just"¦ blah.