Before the trailer, we thought: With Kristen Wiig’s first post-“Bridesmaids” starring role, a supporting cast that includes Annette Bening and Matt Dillon in welcome comedic roles, all signs pointed to a return to form for “American Splendor” directors Shari Spring Berman and Robert Pulcini, following “The Nanny Diaries” and “The Extra Man.” Add on a successful premiere at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival (where Lionsgate picked up U.S. distribution rights) and it seemed that all the pieces were in place for one of the summer’s more enjoyable comedies.
And Now: From the second Wiig and Bening are on-screen, it’s clear that the two are having a blast in their mother-daughter roles, with Bening bringing a natural charisma on-screen not seen since her Oscar-nominated turn in 2010’s “The Kids Are All Right.” Meanwhile, after spending the last few year’s in relatively generic genre fare, Dillon seems to be having a great time as Bening’s new, pseudo-spiritual boyfriend.
Wiig stars as Imogene, a New York playwright who, after finding early success, is struggling to become anything beyond yesterday’s news. With both her career and a relationship reaching a halt, a spur-of-the-moment move puts her in the hospital and forces her to move back to New Jersey under the care of her mother (Bening). With her mother’s new boyfriend (Dillon) and a mysterious younger man (Darren Criss) both living in the house, Imogene is forced to cope with the sudden change in her life as well as her turbulent relationship with her mother, all the while trying to find the easiest way out.
Still the trailer isn’t without its misfires. The early “it’s all a dream!” twist comes off as not much more than generic, and it’s hard to look at the mother-daughter relationship at the film’s core without thinking of the countless comedies that have come before revolving around the same topic. But this is still heavily outweighed by the sheer likeability of the film, both tonally and through the performances on display. Berman and Pulcini are clearly talented forces in the independent world, and it’s nice to see them with a cast as game as this and a script to support them.