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Girl Most Likely
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3 Stars - Good
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Mpaa Rating
PG-13 (For sexual content and language)
Genre
Directed By
Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Run Time
1 hour 43 minutes
Cast
Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, Matt Dillon, Darren Criss
Theatre Release
July 18, 2013 by Lionsgate / Roadside Attractions

I'm guessing this isn't the introductory sentence you were expecting, but stick with me: Dr. Richard Mouw, the renowned evangelical theologian and philosopher—and, most recently, president of Fuller Theological Seminary—wrote a book in 1994 called Consulting the Faithful: What Christian Intellectuals Can Learn from Popular Religion. In it, Mouw writes directly to those Christians who feel they have, in some sense, "graduated" from the sort of church they grew up in—from, perhaps, a low-church evangelicalism to what they see as a more culturally-aware, intellectually-engaged faith.

Mouw's argument is that the Christian intellectual (or just one who wants to be) has a great deal to learn from the religious practice of the masses. In the book he points out the poverty we bring on the church and on our world if we forget this. It's a reminder that resonates, sometimes uncomfortably, with those who (for instance) find themselves wincing at corny skits when they go home for the holidays, or turn up their noses at everything having to do with Christian subculture. Certainly there might be things to discuss and debate and even eschew in American popular religion, Mouw says, but let's not make the grave mistake of tossing it all out in pursuit of something more highbrow and cool.

I found myself thinking about Mouw's admonition in an unlikely place: a movie theater in midtown Manhattan, where I was watching Kristen Wiig sniff disdainfully at Annette Bening's taste in men. Girl Most Likely belongs to the genre of films about sophisticated city-dwellers returning home to the heartland/suburbs/New Jersey to discover that's where true love and contentment lies, which arguably starts with Zach Braff's Garden State. It continues on through Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown and Jason Reitman's Young Adult and a host of other films that are (sometimes mercifully) lost to the wilds of IMDB.

Directed by Shari Springer-Berman and Robert Pulcini, the husband-wife team who made American Splendor, Girl Most Likely follows its same contours with a bit of a lighter touch. It's a romantic comedy, emphasis on the comedy, the sort where the meet-cute happens in the heroine's mother's bathroom because the boarder barges in by accident while the heroine is peeing sleepily. Where Young Adult was dark, Girl Most Likely has affection for all its oddball characters, except the ones who fancy themselves a cut above everyone else.

Imogene (Wiig, one of the few women in Hollywood who's trusted to carry a film without anyone more famous playing her love interest) came to New York as a playwright with promise, recipient of a prestigious fellowship and named as someone to watch in major media outlets. Her friend Dara—met through the board of the foundation that gives out the fellowship—has introduced Imogene to a bevy of uppercrusty Upper East Side socialite types as well as her boyfriend, who has sidestepped talk of marriage by saying they are spiritually bound, in what he claims is the tradition of his Dutch family.

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