Buoyed by Keira Knightley’s empathetic performance, Laggies is a decent coming of adult age dramedy that (like its protagonist) is a bit too directionless.
Laggies stars Keira Knightley as 28-year old Megan, as she finds herself in the midst of a quarter-life crisis while attempting to decide just what her next step ought to be, both professionally (having already earned a graduate degree) and in her personal life. Megan, now struggling to relate to her longtime friends, winds up all the more caught off-guard when her boyfriend Anthony (Mark Webber) – whom she has been with since high school – proposes (or, rather, tries to) during one of their friends’ wedding.
In response to this and her having made an unpleasant discovery about her dad (Jeff Garlin), Megan ends up giving herself a week to get her act together, by pretending to head out of town to a self-improvement seminar. However, after having befriended the teenager Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz), Megan instead lays low at her newfound young pal’s house – much to the confusion of Annika’s dad Craig (Sam Rockwell), a single and world-weary divorce lawyer.
Laggies premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and represents the latest directorial effort from indie filmmaker Lynn Shelton (Humpday, Your Sister’s Sister), but Shelton’s first feature-length project that she didn’t also write. The Laggies script was instead penned by Andrea Seigel, a relative newcomer who shows potential in her debut, but also suffers from many of the customary growing pains for a first-time (produced) screenwriter.
Buoyed by Keira Knightley’s empathetic performance, Laggies is a decent coming of adult age dramedy that (like its protagonist) is a bit too directionless. The screenplay by Seigel nonetheless does address relevant themes and issues for anyone who’s gone through (or is going through) their 20s – or is at a crossroads in their life, really. Recent movies by Seth Rogen have dealt with related subject matter through raunchy jokes and man-child tropes, but Laggies is able to mix things up a bit by relying on quirky humor and a woman’s perspective, instead.
Unfortunately, Laggies ends up walking a very conventional line, story-wise, resulting in a movie that feels a bit too light-weight; to be fair, though, it also seems that some of the richer material from Seigel’s script (read: certain subplots involving Megan’s old high school buddies and Annika’s friends) was cut down or removed altogether during the editing process. Shelton and her longtime cinematographer, Benjamin Kasulke, stage the proceedings in a visually-clean fashion and give it the right amount of polish to overcome its low-budget design, but ultimately Laggies would’ve needed some real stylistic flourishes to make up for its narrative shortcomings.
In terms of her directorial work on Laggies, Shelton’s true strength lies with her ability to coax solid performances from her capable (and willing) cast. Keira Knightley, who is back to using her American accent here, does a fine job of expressing Megan’s various personalities quirks and mental hangups through just her facial expressions and body language alone. The naturalism of her performance helps to offset the moments where Knightley must deliver fairly on-the-nose dialogue about her character’s journey (and the epiphanies she has along the way).
Chloë Grace Moretz is once again strong in the role of the high schooler Annika, even though her character doesn’t amount to much more than an outline. Sam Rockwell likewise brings more depth than the writing does to the role of Annika’s dad, shedding some of his coolness and dorking it up a little, while also capturing the loneliness and heartbreak that lingers beneath Craig’s surface. Folks such as Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Goldbergs), Ellie Kemper (The Office), Kaitlyn Dever (Short Term 12), and Mark Webber (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) play their own roles well, but they’re mostly there to keep the plot moving.
In the end, Laggies is a well-acted indie-flavored spin on a familiar dramedy narrative, but it’s too fluffy to amount to anything that substantial. It’s a passable film on the whole, and is the rare movie that examines modern early adulthood problems from the perspective of a fully-realized female protagonist; that makes it recommendable as a future rental option, but not necessarily something that needs to be seen in a theater.
Laggies is now playing in a limited U.S. theatrical release. It is 99 minutes long and is Rated R for language, some sexual material and teen partying.