SXSW Review: Most Likely to Murder
Genre mixing in films have become more and more frequent thanks to the wildly and well-deserved success of Get Out. Most Likely to Murder is another one of those, but way more light and fun. Most Likely to Murder is a going home for the holidays murder whodunit?
When former cool kid/bully, Billy (played by Adam Pally), returns back home for Thanksgiving break he expects to own the town again -- but unfortunately, to his surprise, mostly everyone has actually grown up and become responsible adults. Billy is still living his high school dream, swearing that he works at a night club in Vegas -- and he does, but as a bathroom attendant. His old best friend Duane (played by co-writer Doug Mand) is the only one who hasn't changed -- which isn't a good thing considering he's still looks identical from his high school years. Billy tries to reconnect with his former partner-in-crime and essentially "one that got away," Kara (played by Rachel Bloom) but, to his surprise, she started dating the old high school creepy kid who lives across the street named Lowell (played by Vincent Kartheiser). This really hits Billy in the gut so he takes out his emotions by drinking the night away with Duane. After the partying, Billy heads home, and in his drunken stupor thinks he witnesses Lowell murdering his mother. Was it true? Did he do it? Or is he just jealous and his mind his playing tricks on him? We follow along to the story and the end may surprise you.
Some films come along and they're just a lot of fun to watch. Goofy, silly, a nice little break from the dramas of the real world -- and this is one of those films. Gregor and Mand, who wrote the film, come from a sketch comedy and improv background so the dialogue is mostly written but there also was a lot of room for creativity. It's snappy and light. While you're not 100% sure if you care about the main character, Billy, you do want to figure out the ending.
The cast nails each character with ease. Billy comes off like a former bully, he's dumb and quick to judge, you're not sure if you believe him or if he's really overblowing conclusions. Billy pushes the boundaries a lot and it does make for great laughs. His friend, Duane, is that typical dumb sidekick. He's dedicated to Billy and hasn't forgotten their friendship. He's like a golden retriever with a dumb earring. Mand plays him perfectly. Bloom plays Kara in the best straightman way, you are on her side nearly the entire time. Kartheiser plays the perfect old high school creep. Truly though, the real surprise of the film is this sleeper funnyman John Reynolds. Reynolds plays Perkins, a lieutenant burdened by Billy -- both his theory of Lowell killing his mother and by the fact that he's married to a woman who is still in love with Billy. Reynolds has been sliding into our hearts quietly with scene stealing moments in "Search Party" and "Stranger Things," the same is to be said for this film. Who knows if the movie would have been as fun without his reactions and comedic timing.
Overall, it's not a perfect film but there are a lot of fun laugh out loud moments. Some jokes even surprise you. It is a pretty solid feature debut from the minds of Dan Gregor and Doug Mand. It won't be surprsing to see them come out with another comedy crusher in the near future.