After faking a suicide bid to win back her boyfriend, floundering New York writer Imogene (Bridesmaids' Kristen Wiig) is mortified to be put in the custody of her gambling addict mother (Annette Bening). Back at home by the New Jersey seaside, she's further alarmed to find a strange man (Glee's Darren Criss) in her old bedroom and an even stranger one (Matt Dillon) sleeping with her mother. Plus, her brother (Christopher MacDonald) is so obsessed with crabs he's practically a hermit.
Shari Springer Berman
Pity poor Imogene. Actually don't bother, since she piles enough on herself as the self-absorbed underachiever at the heart of this faltering comedy from the co-directors of 2003's indie fave American Splendor.
As irritating here as she was engaging in Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig plays the tragic Imogene, a once-promising playwright struggling to keep up with life among the New York glitterati as a lowly copywriter.
But just when she thinks she's hit rock bottom after losing her job and her boyfriend, she plummets even further with a fake suicide attempt that merely sees her released into the care of her estranged mother Zelda (Bening).
Following a quick detour to the casino to confirm Zelda's credentials as a terrible parent, Imogene is soon back in the family madhouse on the New Jersey shore. Dad's long dead (allegedly), but her vaguely Aspergic brother Ralph (Fitzgerald) is still there, which is hardly surprising since he has a greater affinity to crabs than people.
What is a surprise is that her room is occupied by an annoyingly young and hunky lodger (Criss) and her mother now has a live-in boyfriend called "George Bousche" (Dillon), who claims to be an immortal samurai currently working undercover for the CIA.
Wacky revelations ensue, prompting numerous awkward questions and even more awkward social situations.
With relative unknown Fitzgerald making a good impression alongside established comedy players like Wiig, Bening and Dillon, it can't fail to raise the odd smile.
Unfortunately, they're not so much characters as collections of quirks, some of which (like Zelda's gambling habit) get lost in the post, while others (Ralph's human crabshell) are overplayed. Still, Criss won't lose any fans with an amiable turn that allows him to strut his Glee stuff as leader of a Backstreet Boys tribute act.
Tonally however, it's all over the place, staggering between unconvincing poignancy, bawdiness, and regulation romcom moments (age gags and drunken bonding scene included), before reaching a farcical climax that belongs to a different movie entirely.
Much of this could be forgiven if you had even the remotest shred of sympathy for Imogene. But from beginning to end, she's the sort of character you should cross the cinema foyer to avoid.