Kristen Wiig continues to prove how great of a comedic actress she is, but unfortunately in this role her character fails to come to life. The whole film feels like Girls or Frances Ha, but unlike those works, fails to live up to its potential. The story feels scattered and never develops a point strong enough for me to connect emotionally with the characters.
When she finds out her father isn’t dead and that her mother lied to spare her young children the trouble of a divorce, she comes to believe that finding her father will fix her life. He’s a successful author and historian living in New York City, so she convinces Lee to take her to the city to look for him. When she finds out she’s been evicted from her apartment and that her best friend won’t let her stay with her for a few days, she ends up having to return to her mother’s house. Each time she sets out to find her father, she gets sidetracked and ends up back at home. The search for her father can never develop into something deeper because she never really focuses on looking, but rather seems to prefer the idea of finding him more.
Imogene seems happy trying to reconnect with her brother, despite being miserable about her return to Atlantic City. While she obviously cares for her brother, she’s too concerned with trying to fix herself to truly bond with him. Instead of legitimately helping and supporting him, she seems to merely pity him. She cannot understand how someone could be happy sticking around his or her hometown when New York is so close. She too busy trying to get her brother, who is obsessed with hermit crabs, to come out of his own shell and never even tries to understand him.
As you could probably surmise, this story is too scattered and irrelevant to make any strong emotional connections or to even maintain a certain level of funny, but the biggest pity is the waste of acting talent. Besides Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening is brilliant as the mother. She’s the perfect mix of crazy and overbearing while still loving and caring about her daughter deep down. Matt Dillon is surprisingly good as a paranoid man who is worried about unseen assassins and telling ridiculous stories about being a samurai and struck by lightning. Bob Balaban also makes an appearance as the estranged father and is great as always.
While the acting was up to the task of the film, the story ends up being irrelevant. A crazy ending wraps up the story quickly and fails to connect with me on anything deeper than face value, despite being set up to potentially say something about family and relationships.
Length: 103 minutes