Laggies (2014)


It’s hard not to be interested in this film, given all the talent involved, and the directors past work certainly makes it something you should seek out. With films like Humpday, Your Sister’s Sister, and Touchy Feely under director Lynn Shelton‘s belt, I know that I really wanted to see this. It’s being distributed by A24 who have yet to misfire this year and it takes place in Settle, so it was right up my alley. While I wasn’t totally disappointed, I also wasn’t totally impressed by this film. It was far different from I thought it was going to be and it left me simply letting out a mediocre sigh.

Megan isn't sure what to do anymore.

Megan isn’t sure what to do anymore.

Megan (Keira Knightley) is going through some sort of mid-life crisis, as she’s beginning to question everything she’s ever known. Her best-friends (Ellie KemperGretchen Mol, & Sara Coates) are all getting married and getting pregnant and they’ve started to lose their childish senses of humor. Megan’s long-time boyfriend, Anthony (Mark Webber), went to a seminar and discovered that he needs to be more proactive in his life, leading to his asking for her hand in marriage. To make things in life even easier, Megan catches her father (Jeff Garlin) cheating on her mother, so she decides that she just needs a break from it all.

After leaving her friend’s wedding far too early, Megan comes across Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz), a teenaged girl looking for someone to buy her alcohol. Megan decides “why not?” and complies and ends up spending the rest of the night with Annika and her good friend Misty (Kaitlyn Dever). Megan and Annika hit it off immediately and things ultimately get to the point where Megan stays the night at her house. Annika’s father, Craig (Sam Rockwell), is a bit befuddled by the situation, but he finds himself enamored by Megan and allows her to stay. In the end, what will Megan do with her life?

Annika has a pet turtle.

Annika has a pet turtle.

Laggies is a comfortable, nonsensical film that wanders around until it finally decides that it’s done telling whatever story it’s trying to tell. Sadly, there isn’t much of a story here, but not everything is a total waste because the actors do make a good impression while they’re gallivanting on-screen. The Seattle setting did make me smile, but I won’t be letting that affect my views on this film.

Keira Knightley has been having a wonderful year and though this role doesn’t hold a candle to everything else that she’s done this year, it’s just a reiteration that she’s really on her game. Knightley, to me, has always been a very expressive actress and I absolutely adored the faces and gestures that she made in this film, as she was going about her confusing life. She has the perfect personality and her reactions are priceless, so it’s extremely hard not to like her. She does what the film requires of her and to that degree, she gives the best performance that she can. It also helps that her piercing smile almost never goes away and that she divulges in the habits of younger people.

Megan and Annika go for a friendly outing.

Megan and Annika go for a friendly outing.

Sam Rockwell, one of film’s greatest gifts to audiences everywhere, unsurprisingly does a stellar job here in terms of balancing drama and comedy. His character is given less to do than anyone else in the film, but he made the biggest impact with the time he did have. He’s funny when he needs to be and can be quite sad and moving when the need arises. He’s just such a charismatic guy and you feel like you know exactly who he is, despite having just met him.

Director Lynn Shelton has shown that she can write and direct passionate and effective films, but Laggies is just very underwhelming considering what she’s done. There are some confusing messages and female viewpoints in the film and I questioned whether or not this was a good film for young women. The messages that were being sent involved just waiting to find the right man and then everything is solved, or you don’t actually have to figure your life out because you don’t need to be responsible while you’re young. The best written character is Rockwell’s and it’s unfortunate that even his character is Mr. Perfect (for the most part) and he’s got everything that Knightley needs, but doesn’t know she needs.

Craig and Megan are making breakfast.

Craig and Megan are making breakfast.

Chloe Grace Moretz, arguably one of the most prominent stars of her age group, is relegated to an extremely simple role that undermines everything else that she’s been working towards. Rising star Kaitlyn Dever also is handed a typical teenage role that spits in the face of all the wonderful work that she’s done, most notably in Short Term 12. These two actresses have proved to be really great, but here they’re stuck playing forgettable characters that are just tossed to the wayside. Then there’s Knightley’s group of friends who are all beyond stupid and only further the thinking that every woman in this film is underwritten and a bumbling idiot.

Laggies was a nearly ninety-minute film that I didn’t mind sitting through, but it certainly could have been much better. It’s just frustrating because I love everyone involved in this film and I know that they’re capable of so much more, but they’re never given a challenge and they’re stuck playing very ordinary characters in an average movie. Lynn Shelton has missteped with this latest outing, but it’s not all bad. She creates extremely likable characters that inhabit an interesting world, and it’s always nice to see Seattle getting some big-screen recognition. People will enjoy this, there’s no doubt about it, but I was expecting a lot more and hopefully we’ll see all these players reach a bit higher next time.

Laggies Trailer

3 STARS!!!

3 / 5 stars     

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