Most Likely to Murder

At times I wonder if there are no new plots under the sun. In the case of Dan Gregor’s Most Likely to Murder, the thought is more of an admission than a complaint.

It’s Thanksgiving, and high school hero Billy (Adam Pally) returns home to reconnect with his family, friends, and particularly his ex-girlfriend Kara (Rachel Bloom) after disappearing into the bright lights of Las Vegas years prior. No longer the town hero, Billy discovers that his friends have moved on with life.

In an attempt to reconnect with his ex Kara, Billy discovers that she is now dating the loner dork Lowell (Vincent Kartheiser), who is now the beloved town pharmacist. He still lives across the street from Billy’s parents and is still the dork in Billy’s eyes.

After an overly successful night of drinking with his best high-school friend Duane (Doug Mand) and ending in a bad encounter with Kara, Billy is in his bedroom peering at Lowell across the street acting odd and violent. The next morning Lowell’s mother is found dead. Billy is the only one who believes Lowell may have murdered his mother.

“…no longer the town hero, Billy discovers that his friends have moved on with life.”

A guy coming home to reflect on his past and future. The strange neighbor that may or may not be a killer. The ex-girlfriend that runs away at the sight of you. Any of this sound familiar? Are you already thinking about how the film ends?

Most Likely To Murder is a pretty predictable movie but just manages to work. I laughed at the right moments through this retelling of an over-told story.

The reason it works is by far Adam Pally’s performance as Billy. He goes full-throttle d-bag and a-hole with just enough pathetic to make you go back and forth between jeering and cheering. From minute one, he starts digging the proverbial hole and winds up pretty deep in that hole by the end of the film. The entire film rests on Pally, and he carries it well.

The supporting cast is stocked with funny up-and-comers with a few descent b-stories. Didi Conn and Ethan Phillips are the proud parents, blind to Billy’s shortcomings. The film’s co-writer Doug Mand plays Duane the best friend who unlike the rest of his friend has matured just slightly more than Billy; his fate is awkward and sad.

“…laughed at the right moments through this retelling of an over-told story.”

John Reynolds stands out as Billy’s rival, Perkins, who’s now wife made an infamous sex tape with Billy in high school. Perkins is now a police lieutenant, and this storyline is probably the freshest rehash of an old subplot.

Creepy Lowell played by Vincent Kartheiser is good, but much of his performance as the might-be killer is seen through the eyes of Billy. Finally, as the ex-girlfriend Kara, Rachel Bloom will delight My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fans with her presence and serves as the most grounded character in this wacky story.

I’ve seen more than my share of “coming home” comedies, and few rarely succeed. Most Likely to Murder has just enough freshness to push it over the recommendation line.

Most Likely to Murder (2018) Directed by Dan Gregor. Written by Dan Gregor and Doug Man. Starring Adam Pally, Rachel Bloom, and Doug Mand. Most Likely to Murder screened at the 2018 Newport Beach Film Festival.

3 out of 5 stars

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