We all know the guy who never really left high school. He was the most popular boy in school and he fully intends to hang on to that title for the rest of his life. But what happens when he is forced to realize that the life he’s leading is actually kind of a mess? That is what Most Likely to Murder, a noir-ish comedy thriller from the minds of Dan Gregor and Doug Mand (How I Met Your Mother and the occasional episode of the brilliant Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), aims to find out.
Most Likely to Murder sees Billy (Adam Pally, Happy Endings, The Mindy Project), the former most popular guy in high school, return home for Thanksgiving to win back his former flame Kara (Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend). After she rebuffs his advances and reveals that she is now involved with former high school weirdo Lowell (Vincent Kartheiser, Mad Men), Billy goes on a bender and thinks he witnesses Lowell murder his mother (they are across-the-street neighbors). With his best friend Duane (played gamely by Mand), he goes on an investigation to prove to Kara that Lowell is a murderer.
Most Likely to Murder is a comedy first and foremost, but there is a clear inspiration from films like Hitchcock’s Rear Window and its 2007 pseudo-remake Disturbia, but what’s regrettable about the film is that it isn’t consistently funny. This is all the more surprising considering the pedigree of the writers and the cast they have put together (Billy Eichner, John Lutz, and Didi Conn all play supporting roles). The jokes fly at a fairly rapid pace, but your mileage will vary based on how hilarious you find Pally’s douche-bro schtick, as he is the butt of most of the jokes. There is a certain charm to Billy, and Pally gives the role his all but he just isn’t all that pleasant to be around for the film’s 99-minute runtime.
The remaining performers do what they can with the material they are given. Bloom is charming in her underwritten role, despite the fact she isn’t given much to do other than stare daggers at Billy. The film’s ace in the hole turns out to be Kartheiser, playing hilariously against type as the former high school geek who may or not be a murderer. He imbues Lowell with an endearing awkwardness that brings the film to life in its dead spots. Still, everyone seems to be having a fun time on screen and that sense of fun is infectious. You can’t help but be a little won over by the cast, even when the script shortchanges them.
What Most Likely to Murder lacks in laughs, however, it makes up for with a compelling mystery. The film isn’t too dark of a comedy, but it’s dark enough to where you really start to think that the film might actually end in a bloodbath. The ending actually earns a significant amount of pathos from the audience, and while Billy’s redemption arc doesn’t fully ring true, it ends on a touching and appropriate note.
Most Likely to Murder is far from a bad film. It’s just rather monotonous. You can’t help but wish it would have been a little bit funnier considering the past work of both of the writers. Still, it makes for an intriguing murder mystery that utilizes it’s noir aspects fairly well, and all of the actors involved seem to be having a good time. It won’t make any Top 10 lists this year but you could do a lot worse.
Lionsgate’s Studio L will release Most Likely to Murder on VOD on May 1, 2018.