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In Laggies, Keira Knightley proves that growing up is hard to do, especially if you are a step or two behind your 20 something friends who all have their lives seemingly sorted out. Directed more than capably by Lynn Shelton (Touchy Feely, Your Sister’s Sister) from a screenplay by Andrea Seigel, in her first effort, the film looks at Megan, who at 20 something still stops by to be her dad’s “sign girl.” She has also developed an inability to connect with her oldest and dearest friends.
The film starts with the camera following the younger versions of Megan and her high school friends who are graduating from high school. The friends opt to stay at a hotel on prom night and skinny dip in the pool. 10 years later and the friends have all moved on to children, businesses and being grown ups. None of these old chums from school could be thought of as “laggies” except for Megan. She has no real direction in her life and when she is not twirling the sign for her father she is laying on his couch watching television, much to her mother’s dismay and annoyance.
Later in the movie, Megan is at Allison’s wedding when her live-in boyfriend of seven years Anthony (Mark Webber) decides to propose. To put off the moment, she allows Allison to send her to the garden and collect her friend’s mother. As she looks for Allison’s mom, she finds her with Megan’s dad and the woman has her hand down his trousers. Upset, she leaves to “get roses” for her friend’s hotel room. As she heads to the store entrance Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz), a sixteen year old high school sophomore, asks if the adult will buy them some booze.
Megan agrees, as someone, she says, did the same for her at their age and when she returns with the drinks, she has a go on the kids’ skateboard. This elicits an invite to “hang out” and Megan stays out all night with the teenagers. When she gets home, Anthony proposes and she accepts. Once she thinks about it, Megan decides to take a week to “get her head straight” and she stays at Annika’s house and on the first day the teen’s dad, Craig (Sam Rockwell) questions her intentions before allowing her to stay in the guest room. In Laggies Keira Knightley, as Megan, proves that going back to one’s teen years, can ease the hard task of growing up even if to do so, is a little impractical.
This self discovery film, all about the “laggies” of society who are one or two steps behind the rest of the world, is cute, fun, revealing and has one overall message. Everyone, in this film, is messed up to some degree. Lawyer Craig has not felt a connection with another human being since his wife, Annika’s mother, left him and his daughter. Megan’s father Ed, played with laidback brilliance by Jeff Garlin (The Goldbergs, Arrested Development) has a very tiny mid-life crisis that he immediately tells his wife about, much to his daughter’s shock, and Annika’s mother Bethany, played with lost desperation by Gretchen Mol (Boardwalk Empire, Life on Mars) was terrified of being a mother and bailed.
Keira Knightley’s character is a college graduate who should be a professional counsellor but cannot connect with her clients. When she meets Annika and Craig, she finds others who are that one step behind, floating directionless with no real focus. Her journey, with her fellow laggies, is an amusingly touching one and by the end of the film everyone appears to have learned something. Laggies opens November 7, 2014 in cinemas across the country. Be prepared to fall in love with Keira Knightley all over again as she proves that while growing up is hard to do, it can be accomplished by going back. Chloe Grace Moretz shines, of course, as the teen girl who needs an adult female role model in her life. Real kudos need to be given to Kaitlyn Dever as Misty, Annika’s best friend, her small but stand out role is another high point of the film in terms of the good time girl who cares. Sam Rockwell does his usual good job by portraying an incredibly likeable lawyer. Be prepared to like this small “self help” movie that has a brilliant blend of humor and self reflection.
By Michael Smith
AMC Town Square Cinema