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Other // R // October 24, 2014
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Fandango]
In a world where society is rapidly evolving and expectations remain heavy, many young adults find themselves lost. Even those who are set upon the "right" path of going through college and pursuing a stable career can feel somewhat alienated. This is one of the issues that director Lynn Shelton and writer Andrea Seigel tackle in the form of their motion picture titled Laggies. While riddled with clichés, this is a character-driven film that strives to work its way into our hearts, and is, for the most part, successful in doing so. It isn't all about groundbreaking genre plot beats, but well-crafted characters that we actually care about prove to make this a worthwhile picture about growing up.
After spending some time in the "real world," Megan (Keira Knightley) is experiencing a quarter-life crisis. Her boyfriend (Mark Webber) proposes to her and her mother pressures her to do something with her life, so she takes the opportunity to escape from her stresses for a week. Megan seeks solace in the house of sixteen-year-old Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz) and her father (Sam Rockwell).
Megan can easily be described as having a child-like mentality. She doesn't understand how to manage her responsibilities and hasn't taken any initiative in becoming an active member in society. She still flips signs for her father's business, which she has been doing since she was still in school. Megan meets Annika outside of a store, as she buys alcohol for the minor and her friends. This is when the story gets even weirder, as she asks Annika if she can stay at her house for a while. Annika agrees, as she tries to hide it from her father, Craig. He inevitably discovers that a grown woman has been staying in his home, but ultimately allows her to stay. Thus far, Megan sounds like a pretty despicably unmotivated person, so why would we care for her well-being? Well, we can't all mature at the same pace, and sometimes it takes a new perspective in order to make serious life changes. She continues to become more likable, as she becomes somewhat of a mother figure for young Annika, whose biological mother left. As this bond continues to develop, we find well-crafted roles with motive, personality, and heart.
Laggies is more than a drama, as it also incorporates aspects of humor throughout the running time. While there are a few chuckles to be found, some of Seigel's jokes fall a bit flat. There's a certain sense of quirkiness to be found here, which proves to be hit and miss. The weirdness once again escalates as Megan and Craig inevitably begin to develop a romantic relationship, leaving Annika in an extremely odd place in between. This is when the film continues to switch between its comedic elements and its dramatic sequences. As mentioned previously, Laggies is incredibly predictable and straight-forward. There isn't much complex content here, and there aren't any surprises. However, there's something special about the characters that makes us want them to work it out, even though it's a complete betrayal of Craig and Annika's trust, as well as that of her fiancé's. The saying that we've all heard before holds true, that things have to get worse before they can get better. Nevertheless, it's important for Megan to stick them out and learn from her mistakes if she hopes to make any progress in her life.
The final act holds its own issues, as some of the character actions don't entirely make sense. Plot beats begin to occur too easily, as it feels as if the characters aren't truly feeling the full extent of the occurrences of what they're experiencing. The emotional stakes are most certainly expressed through the first two acts, although the build-up doesn't entirely pay-off, since it feels as if our characters are let off far too easily. Even so, in a film about learning to grow up, it's truly fascinating to see multiple characters experience it simultaneously. This is a picture in which we truly learn to love the roles, as we hope that they're able to successfully overcome their personal demons. It's just a shame that these moments of change aren't highlighted in a more realistic fashion.
Regardless of the screenplay's hiccups, the casting is quite strong. Keira Knightley is fantastic as Megan. It's great to see her in a more comedically light role, as she struggles to find herself. This performance greatly aids to our liking of this character. Chloë Grace Moretz is quite fitting as Annika. One of my major issues with her in Carrie is that I don't buy her as a bullied and plain girl. Yet under the direction of Lynn Shelton, Moretz shines as a typical teenager. She feels incredibly natural as this average teenage girl, who is starring in a coming-of-age story of her own. Sam Rockwell is great as Craig. He always manages to deliver organic performances with a sleek sense of charisma. Rockwell is funny, charming, and convincing. Laggies features a round of worthwhile performances that truly bring this picture to life.
Director Lynn Shelton and writer Andrea Seigel have created an entertaining, although not groundbreaking, entry into the coming-of-age category. It isn't quite as funny as it wants to be, but the characters are what make this a worthwhile feature. The film is largely boosted by convincing performances by Knightley, Moretz, and Rockwell, as two individuals fight to find their place in the world, and one tries to find their way back into it. Even though it isn't entirely expressed, there is a rich amount of relevant content that remains behind the picture. Laggies is a crowd-pleaser about the trials of growing up. Recommended.