Kristen Wiig comedy ‘Imogene’ plays to packed Toronto house


TORONTO -- Film buyers, fans of Kristen Wiig, and “Gleeks” packed Toronto’s Ryerson Theatre on Friday afternoon for the near-sold-out world premiere of “Imogene” from “American Splendor” directors Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman.

The emotional comedy features Wiig in the familiar sad sack role that she portrayed in last summer’s hit “Bridesmaids,” while “Glee’s” Darren Criss makes his feature film debut, one that highlights his considerable vocal talents -- and encouraged throngs of screaming teens to line the street awaiting his arrival.

Wiig plays Imogene Duncan, a failed playwright left so bereft by the loss of a boyfriend and a job that she fakes her own suicide with the hope that her ex-boyfriend will save her. When he doesn’t come to her aid, Imogene is forced to live with her flighty, gambling-addicted mother, played by Annette Bening, and her very possibly autistic brother (stage actor Christopher Fitzgerald) in her childhood home in Atlantic City. Criss plays a boarder at the house.


The movie is based on a screenplay by Michelle Morgan, who also has a small role in the movie and previously acted for the husband-and-wife directors in the HBO film “Cinema Verite.” And though Morgan wouldn’t specifically say that the premise of the film was her own, she did admit in a post-screening Q&A; that many of the tragicomic details of Imogene’s life were ripped from her own.

Said Morgan, “Basically, I lived it and then [Kristen] lived it on screen.”

Wiig, who was cast in the part prior to the release of “Bridesmaids,” liked her time working with Pulcini and Berman. “Normally, when a director says’ no,’ that’s it. But Shari could say no, I’d say look over here and then I would go ask Paul,” quipped Wiig. “It was great.”

The project is up for grabs and many film buyers were considering it Friday evening, though it seems no one is willing to make any moves until the critics weigh in with their reviews. The film debuted at the same theater that screened “Friends with Kids” last year, a movie also featuring Wiig, that went on to do $7 million in theaters, with a solid performance on video on demand. The same type of rollout could work for this film, though it does feel a bit more commercial than “Kids.”

Many in the diverse crowd at the Ryerson were effusive in their reaction to the movie and Wiig. One young man chatted up a friend on his cellphone on his way out of the theater, “She’s just so good in that kind of part.”


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