MOST LIKELY TO MURDER, the latest project from writer/director Dan Gregor (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), is a murder-mystery comedy centered around Billy, a former high-school hero, who returns home expecting life to be like it once was. While back at his old stomping ground, he learns that all his friends have moved on and that his ex-girlfriend is dating the high school outcast, Lowell, who Billy used to mercifully make fun of. When a death occurs, Billy is convinced that Lowell is behind it and sets forth a chain of reactions to prove to his friends how deadly Lowell really is. The film stars Rachel Bloom (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), Vincent Kartheiser (“Mad Men”), and Adam Pally (Dirty Grandpa).
Going into this film, I went in with an open mind, and I’m happy to report that this movie was extremely entertaining. Billy, played by Adam Pally, is vicariously living through his glory days of being the highschool “hero” while doing meager janitorial work at a Las Vegas club. When he returns to his Midwestern town for Thanksgiving, all his friends have moved on and matured from the antics of their highschool days. When he runs into his ex-girlfriend Kara (Bloom) who has started dating the former outcast, Lowell (Kartheiser), he begins to suspect that not all is right with Lowell. That same night, while wasted, Billy notices Lowell acting strange in his home, only to later find out that Lowell’s mother has died. This sets off a chain reaction in which Billy becomes his own private detective while he does whatever he can to prove to his ex, and his old friends, that Lowell isn’t the sweet and caring guy they have all come to love.
I really enjoyed the composition between the more serious undertones of the film and the lighthearted humor throughout. As someone who was considered an outcast in high school, it’s interesting looking back at the “heroes” of that day and age and seeing where they are in life right now. So many hold onto their “glory days” without focusing on the present and MOST LIKELY TO MURDER does a brilliant job of showcasing that. However what really drives this film is the performances from our three leads: Adam Pally, Rachel Bloom and Vincent Kartheiser. Along with the tightly written story, the film unfolds in a way that is both entertaining, and serious, with a clear message at the end.
Though I wouldn’t consider this film to be “horror”, it does have some elements seen in horror films. Clearly a murder takes place and during the duration of the film our sights are set on Lowell through the assumptions of Billy’s armchair detective work. Even though Billy can come across as crass and ignorant, there is a side of him that clearly cares for the well being of his friends and family. His execution in wanting to protect them, however, goes horribly awry, as he own demons begin to surface. It’s hard not to be annoyed with him at times, but simultaneously you are rooting for him to solve the mystery of this crime, and at the very least, you want to see him get his shit together.
Though not the best film that I saw at SXSW, MOST LIKELY TO MURDER does deserve more recognition than it is getting. The acting is superb, the writing is remarkably seamless and the overall mystery keeps you guessing till the very end. I liked that the message of growth and acceptance played out in a way that was subtle yet noticeable since if it was more overpowering it would have taken away from the enjoyment of the film. Having not been familiar with Rachel Bloom or Adam Pally prior to this film, I can say wholeheartedly that they caught my attention and I am excited to see what they do next. MOST LIKELY TO MURDER may not be perfect, but there’s a hell of a lot to love, so make sure to check it out when it comes to a film festival near you!