Rated: R for language, some sexual material and teen partying. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: October 24, 2014 Released by: A24 Films
A new comedy from Lynn Shelton about commitment and maturity isn't quite on a par with her Safety Not Guaranteed or Your Sister's Sister, but maybe an appealing pretentious offshoot to more mainstream fare like My Best Friend's Wedding.
Laggies has a slackness suited to its sprightly, situational wryness compliant with awkward, nicely fashioned characters. At least the ones played by Keira Knightley (Begin Again) and the ubiquitous Chloe Grace Moretz (The Equalizer, If I Stay). The former as 28-year-old Megan, overeducated and underemployed, and the other as high schooler Annika, deserted by her mother and in romantic atrophy.
The debut writing of Andrea Seigel has an unrefined naturalism, light-hearted in the struggles between youth and adulthood which the title seems to label Megan in a scenario unlike her high school friends like Ellie Kemper's Allison who's about to get married. It might be akin to the Matthew McConaughey/Sarah Jessica Parker comedy Failure To Launch even though Megan lives with high-school sweetheart Anthony (Mark Webber) who sends her into a "quarter-life" crisis after surprising her with an engagement ring during the nuptials.
The runaway potential fiancée loses her composure for a bit but finds solace with the wise-beyond-her-years Annika that more than recalls her former adolescent self. Not that she can't get Annika alcohol as her asylum works under the pretense of painting. Which doesn't go over that well with Annika's vigilant dad, Craig (Sam Rockwell of The Way, Way Back and Moon in nice skittish form, particularly in his line readings).
If Seigel's storytelling about learning from underdevelopment and new friendship seems to be a mite ponderous, the personal tussles and character interaction can be oddly enriching. Leisure and quality time with Annika can be mutually beneficial with the younger counterpart able to provide an important sisterly viewpoint; at the same time Megan helps Annika in a way that corresponds with her studies as a career counselor almost with a maternal instinct to allow some necessary grappling with a fractious condition.
Shelton's way with Seigel's material in how the characters cope with varying, often discomfiting circumstances turns out to be less cheap and superficial than a discerning onlooker may perceive, especially as Knightley often does well in navigating between the lively and pedantic in an admirable, likable Laggies. Especially when so many her age can identify with her indecisive milieu in a complex world and time as actresses like Greta Gerwig have represented with much authentic flair of late.