As Most Likely To Murder premieres at the SXSW Film Festival, the comedy noir is the rare film that makes a crazy ex-boyfriend villain out of its star.
Billy Green, a lowly concierge working in Las Vegas, finds himself back hometown of Valley Stream for Thanksgiving. Billy talks up Vegas as if he’s boss there. The reality is that he’s not living the glamorous life that he tells people. Unlike his old classmates, he’s still stuck in the past. Billy is determined to get back with his high school girlfriend, Kara Dublowski (Rachel Bloom). On Thanksgiving Eve, Billy learns that Kara is now in a relationship with Lowell Shapiro (Vincent Kartheiser). A former loner in high school, Lowell is now a pharmacist in their town.
Billy’s drummer friend Duane Douscher (Doug Mand) is more or less at the same maturity level. As the rest of their classmates have matured and grown up, they are still ten years behind so to speak. Billy takes his immaturity to the next level when he learns that Lowell’s mom, Norma (Constance Shulman), suddenly dies with no explanation. Billy suspects there’s some foul play at hand and he won’t stop until he is able to prove that his arch-nemesis, Lowell, is the culprit. Billy’s parents, Fran (Didi Conn) and Bobby (Ethan Phillips), invite Lowell over for Thanksgiving dinner. Not surprisingly, things get awkward very fast.
Factor in Officer Jason Perkins (John Reynolds), now married to Elana (Rebecca Naomi Jones). There’s a past between Elana and Billy. A past that Perkins probably doesn’t want to know about.
For Kara, Lowell is the first person that she dates that “isn’t a complete douchebag.” This announcement comes during a pivotal scene in the film. Appropriately, Kara chews out Billy for not growing up like everyone else. Unlike Billy, Kara decided she wanted to become a better person. If Kara never changed, she’d have never met Lowell.
Longtime writing partners Dan Gregor and Doug Mand team up to give us Most Likely to Murder. The film has some funny elements that blend well when mixed with its noir material. With these elements, the film becomes a solid feature directorial debut for Gregor. After the backstory is given in the first act, the film is really able to get going once the comedy enters noir territory. Scenes get Hitchcockian to say the least and these elements work even better!
Pally, who had a leading role in 2017’s Band-Aid, has a darker role here to say the least. It’s fun to watch him play against type as he revisits his high school days. Kartheiser gets to show a different side of him than what we’ve seen in Mad Men. In many scenes, the film shoots him as if he’s that mysterious character from a Hitchock film.
Bloom works well playing it straight opposite the Happy Endings alumnus. As characters go, Kara Dublowski and Rebecca Bunch couldn’t be more opposite. Unlike Rebecca, it’s Kara who finds herself super-annoyed that Billy is still trying to pursue her even though he never really matured beyond the asshole they were in high school.
Most Likely to Murder is a fun comedy noir and takes advantage of the chemistry between the cast. It’s bound to become a classic for the ages.
DIRECTOR: Dan Gregor
SCREENWRITERS: Dan Gregor and Doug Mand
CAST: Adam Pally, Rachel Bloom, Vincent Kartheiser, John Reynolds, Didi Conn, Ethan Phillips, Doug Mand, Hasan Minhaj, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Julia Goldani Telles