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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Laggies (Blu-ray)
Laggies (Blu-ray)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // January 20, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Tyler Foster | posted February 16, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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It would be easy to summarize Laggies, the new film by Seattle director Lynn Shelton, as being about a woman suffering from the same kind of arrested development as so many movie manchildren. Megan (Keira Knightley) is 28, still dating her high school boyfriend Anthony (Mark Webber); still hanging out with her high school friends Allison, Savannah, and Danielle (Ellie Kemper, Sara Coates, Kirsten deLohr Helland); still working for her father, Ed (Jeff Garlin), twirling a sign advertising his tax advice business despite having a degree in family counseling. Yet, when she flees all of the above to stay with 16-year-old Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz) and her slightly suspicious father Craig (Sam Rockwell), it's not an inability to grow up that drives her, but the subconscious sense that the only way to do so is on her own terms.

There's no question that Megan's friends want her to take big steps. At Allison's wedding, Anthony proposes to Megan, having arranged it with Allison in advance. The next day, Savannah makes them the godparents of her first child. Everyone encourages Megan to attend seminars and workshops to help get her on a career path. In their view, this is being supportive, but to Megan, it's an imposition, a responsibility placed unwillingly on her shoulders. Conversely, when Annika and her friends approach Megan outside a convenience store in the hopes she'll buy them beers, it's one of the few instances in her life where someone is asking for her help, where her support is necessary for someone else to succeed, and she embraces the opportunity to provide rather than comply.

The heart of the film is the resulting relationship between Megan and Annika, a feminine bond that's missing from Annika's life. Annika first calls on Megan to come to school and pose as her mother for a parent-teacher conference. For Annika, it's just a way to get out of trouble, but Megan is drawn to the role of a mentor, and she obliges in exchange for a place to hide out for a week. They're the perfect age for each other: Megan is young enough that she doesn't seem like she's from a different generation, and Annika is smart but not quite old or wise enough that Megan's advice isn't valuable. Their friendship is a give-and-take: When they attend a house party and Annika struggles with angst over a would-be relationship, Megan knowingly picks up the longing glances that Annika misses, and Megan gets a chance to relive her glory days, when her friends were on her side. Knightley and Moretz have excellent on-screen chemistry, and every scene they're together crackles with an invigorating warmth.

Craig, for his part, questions why an adult is suddenly staying in his house like a sleepover guest. As a lawyer, he has great faith in his ability to suss out a lie, and quizzes her on her situation. Although her rambling response doesn't exactly reassure him, he's naturally nervous about the challenge of raising a daughter on his own, and recognizes the impact that Megan could have on Annika, so he tentatively agrees to let her stay. As Megan and Annika bond, Craig becomes increasingly intrigued by her presence, creating further wrinkles in their already complicated relationship. Rockwell and Knightley also have excellent chemistry, and his knack for being a laid-back highlight of nearly every movie he's in remains as sharp as ever, but the more important scene about their fling is one between Megan and Annika, another instance of a support system that pushes people up rather than heaping responsibility downward.

In many of the male-centric movie analogs that come to mind, the protagonists are their own worst enemy, standing in the way of their own maturity. Megan may not be completely free of guilt when it comes to the factors holding her back, but Andrea Siegel's screenplay (Laggies marks the first time Shelton has directed a film she didn't write) offers up a multifaceted and compassionate look at why Megan's stuck on a slow track. When Craig first interrogates Megan about why she's hiding out in his house, she says she felt it'd be nice not to be judged for a change. It sounds like a straightforward enough reason, but it speaks to Megan's bigger problems. The title, Laggies, sounds like it applies to Megan, but it might be better used to describe the people surrounding her, turning her growth into an ultimatum.

The Blu-ray
Admittedly, the clean simplicity of the film's poster wasn't going to translate too well to a Blu-ray cover, but the artwork Lionsgate has come up with for Laggies' home video debut is very underwhelming. Photos of the cast arranged in a grid form a base, but the designer in charge went way overboard with fonts, from the size-changes to the erratic capitalization. Capturing the tone of a film like Laggies with artwork would be a challenge, but this doesn't even try. At least the color scheme looks fine. The single-disc release comes with a matte slipcover featuring identical artwork, and there is an insert inside the eco-friendly Viva Elite Blu-ray case with a UltraViolet Digital Copy code.

The Video and Audio
For the most part, the 1.85:1 1080p AVC widescreen presentation of the feature looks great. The majority of the movie takes place in the daytime and features bright green grass, blue skies, and bold wardrobe color choices that pop right off the screen. The film's few night sequences are the only ones to prove a little troubling, with a degree of crush and at least one minor instance of banding invading the viewing experience. Still, the razor-sharp, sunny perfection of the other 90% of the disc will be the viewer's prevailing memory. Sound is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that's mostly devoted to the film's score, written by Death Cab's Ben Gibbard, which is poppy but not intrusive. There's some environmental effects and surround detail in a couple of crowded party scenes, but for the most part, this is a film made up of characters talking to each other, which the mix handles with ease. English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing and English and Spanish subtitles are also included.

The Extras
The most substantial extra on deck is a feature-length audio commentary by director Lynn Shelton. While it's a shame that neither writer Andrea Siegel or any members of Shelton's cast were able to join her (she notes at the end that she's never done a solo commentary before), she has more than enough to say to fill 100 minutes. She covers directing a screenplay she didn't write, having a bigger budget, relocating the script from Orange County to the Ballard / Seattle / Kirkland area (where I live!), working with the cast, working with her long-time crew, the score by Death Cab's Ben Gibbard, and details of the characters and story that attracted her to the project.

Two fluffy video features are included. The better of the two is "Lagging On with Lynn Shelton" (8:46), which finds the actors speaking about wanting to work with the director and the experience of shooting the film. Of the cast, Jeff Garlin seems the most candid -- I'm not suggesting anyone is lying, just that the rest of the comments take on a fairly routine promotional feel. The other featurette is "Shooting Seattle: The Look of Laggies" (6:01), which features more comments from the cast but pulls more from the crew, most of whom are Shelton veterans. Neither featurette is as focused as the titles imply, both providing a more general look at the shoot. Oddly, Chloe Grace Moretz is not interviewed in either of them. The video features are rounded out by 6 deleted scenes (9:31). Although it's a bit frustrating that these are presented out of order in terms of their placement within the film, they're all fairly contextualized. The one scene that feels like it ought to have been retained somehow is the second half of a high school reunion sequence, which most clearly captures the chemistry between Knightley and Webber.

Trailers for A Most Violent Year, Life After Beth, Obvious Child, The Spectacular Now, and The Skeleton Twins play before the main menu, and are accessible under "Trailers" in the special features. No theatrical trailer for Laggies is included. All of the video extras are in HD.

Laggies was marketed as a comedy, and there are certainly very funny moments in it, but it's more of a drama, basking in the genuine connection that forms between Megan and Annika. The unlikely friendship between a 28-year-old and 16-year-old sounds like something that could be played for laughs and revolve around the immaturity of the older party, but it's a warm and endearing portrait of two people having each other's back. Highly recommended.

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