It’s been said that your twenties are about self-discovery as well as finding your people and place in the world. That’s pretty overwhelming if you think about it: placing the fate of your existence on a single decade of your life. Embarking on an adventure to punch existentialism in the face, Laggies fails to push past conventional storytelling, but does so with a very delightful cast and off-the-wall attitude.
Overcome by her directionless path in life, superficial friends, daddy issues, and an overly nice boyfriend (Mark Webber) of whom she has been with since senior prom, Megan (Kiera Knightley) has had enough. Ditching her obligation to attend a week-long educational seminar that could help transition her into adulthood, she calls in a favor from her new buddy Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz), a junior in high school whom she purchase alcohol for outside a supermarket. As Megan spends time with her new high school pals, along with Annika’s dad Craig (Sam Rockwell), valuable life lessons about growing up are gained.
Directed by Lynn Shelton (Touchy Feely; Your Sister’s Sister; Humpday), Laggies packs in a lot of story in its short run time and simple plot. What gives this film its depth is its fully fleshed out characters. From Megan’s personal affairs to Annika’s mother running out on her to Craig’s virility vanquished by his work, no one is short on problems to be solved. But all the while, everyone is taking it one day at a time, never acting melodramatic nor so distraught to the point of being unbelievable. These characters feel like real people with real issues.
What expands the quality of realism in Laggies is its sense of self and personality, from a script by first time screenwriter Andrea Seigel. Life is wrought with awkwardness, and the uncomfortable situations are characters encounter is what keeps this movie honest. Despite the uncanny pairing of a 16-year-old teenager and a 28-year-old woman, the relationship between this dynamic duo is sweet and heartfelt. Knightley and Moretz have great chemistry together. Sam Rockwell is as charming as ever per usual. Whether he has a dance number I cannot spoil for you.
Tragically, not every one is given the chance to shine or take on an interesting role as our three leads. Secondary cast members like Ellie Kemper (Bridesmaids) – who plays Megan’s best friend Allison – takes a backseat and isn’t given very much to do. Even Megan’s photographer boyfriend Anthony is stuck on the sidelines when she attempts to get her life in order. However, Kaitlyn Dever (Short Term 12)– who plays Misty, Annika’s BFF – does a tremendous job as comedic relief, stealing every scene she is in.
Struggling to keep a good balance between its hefty cast, the latter third of Laggies rushes to cover all of its bases. When we come to the point where Megan is ready to take life head on, everything becomes flustered with clichés. Attempting to stick to its guns, the film’s quirky personality isn’t enough to save face from overly contrived actions from its characters.
I admire what Lynn Shelton attempted to bring to the forefront of the coming of age genre, but Laggies’ lack of discipline and ingenuity could have been avoided if a little more time was taken to develop the final act. And unfortunately, two-thirds of a good movie that is genuinely ambitious and full of life is rather discouraging.
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Laggies was directed by Lynn Shelton, with a run time of 99 minutes. The film is rated R for language, some sexual material, and teen partying.