Friday, November 7, 2014


Director Lynn Shelton's Laggies is an odd film that attempts to blend character study with rom-com tropes. It lacks the satiric wit and humorous mean-spiritedness of Young Adult but plays on similar themes of a protagonist struggling to grow-up. Andrea Seigel's script is kept afloat in its weaker moments thanks to an engaging performance by its star and a clear message about the struggles of finding oneself as an adult and the odd paths we take to get there.

As all her high school friends have gotten older, married, and started careers and families, Megan (Keira Knightley) is still living with her equally-procrastinistic high school boyfriend (Mark Webber) and working for her father (Jeff Garlin) in a dead-end job twirling a sign by the side of the road. The marriage of two friends, a proposal by her boyfriend, and the discover of her father's extramarital affairs, all push Megan over the edge one night seeking comfort in the simpler problems of a high school student (Chloƫ Grace Moretz) and her friends.

Lying to her boyfriend about attending a life seminar, Megan disappears for a week moving in with Annika (Moretz) and her father (Sam Rockwell) who is thrown off guard by the entire bizarre relationship.

Laggies is a film starring Keira Knightley (an actress who nearly always sells me on her character despite any issues with the rest of the movie), so the odds I'm going to enjoy myself are going to be far better than 50-50. Although the movie worked for me, Laggies certainly isn't a film for everyone. The small number of critics at the screening I attended with quite divisive in their opinions. It does get into trouble when it falls back into obvious cliche from time to time and works much better in exploring Megan's role as a fish-out-of-water both in her own life and in Annika's, neither of which she truly fits in. One of the most intriguing takeaways from the film is Megan's growth as an actual character compared to her high school clique who may have gotten older and assumed adult responsibilities but hasn't grown as much as their shared life experience suggests.

I'd also recommend the film for the performances of Knightley and Moretz. It's obvious why Knightley would be drawn to a character like Megan which offers depth and arc in a way far too many female leads lack. It's an odd balancing act she has to walk as Megan has to lie enough to keep the reason for her journey secret but be surprisingly open about the state of her life to total strangers in a way that's both off-putting and endearing. Moretz is smart choice for Megan's new friend and the scenes between the pair are the most memorable of the film (which could have used even more of them together on-screen). Sadly, the arc between Knightley and Rockwell's characters isn't nearly as strong and gets a bit cookie-cutter rom-com for my tastes eventually playing out in rather predictable fashion.

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