Lynn Shelton’s Laggies (a term for those slow to grow up) tells the story of a girl who is stuck in between her high school glory days and full-fledged adulthood. The film begins like a home movie, with footage of a group of high school friends at their senior prom, laughing and yelling in their limo, and enjoying their John Mellencamp-type-world of high school. When the film picks up a decade later, “Megan” (Keira Knightley) still belongs to her high school group of friends, half-heartedly dating her longtime boyfriend “Anthony” (Mark Webber) and attending the bachelorette party of her stuck-up friend “Allison” (Ellie Kemper). Although Megan has a Masters Degree in Family Counseling, she has yet to land a full-time job and instead twirls a cardboard arrow that says, “Tax Advice,” outside of her dad’s office.
All of Megan’s frustrations boil to the surface at Allison’s cookie-cutter wedding, as she watches the couple complete with their first choreographed dance together. (Side note: the first act of the film drips with so much sarcasm and satire that my stomach hurt from laughing). Hippie, tree-hugger Anthony bends down on one knee to propose to Megan, to which she pulls him back up and immediately starts to panic. To make matters even worse, Megan walks out of the wedding venue to see her father “Ed” (Jeff Garlin) cheating on her mother. One solution to making Megan’s terrible night better? Alcohol. When she arrives at the liquor store, Megan encounters teenage “Annika” (Chloë Grace Moretz) who asks her to buy alcohol for her posse of friends - to which Megan accepts and hands them a bag of wine coolers, beer, and a bottle of wine. But instead of returning to the wedding-from-Hell, Megan hangs around with Annika and her friends, flipping skateboards, TP-ing a house, and bumming around in the park in a drunken stupor.
The next day, eager Anthony and hung-over Megan make plans to elope, but not before she can go on a weeklong “personal development” retreat. But instead of going out of town, Megan decides to camp out at Annika’s house and spend some time with the high-school crowd. Megan and Annika talk about boys, parties, and their parents until Annika’s divorce-lawyer dad, “Craig,” (Sam Rockwell) catches Megan sleeping over and questions why a woman in her late 20s would want to spend time with his teenage daughter. Megan makes up a lie as to why she’s homeless for a week and Craig agrees to let her stay in the guest room.
Predictably, Megan not only forms a close bond with Annika, but a blossoming romance with Craig (unbeknownst to him, she is still engaged to Anthony). What was promising in Act One and most of Act Two becomes stagnant by Act Three. With actors like Knightley, Rockwell, and Moretz, there needed to be a stronger plot than the one they had to work with. There were great one-liners and a handful of strong scenes that worked really well, especially between the three main characters, but Shelton seemed to be telling too many stories at once. The trailer for Laggies leads you to believe the film is about Megan’s bond with Annika and Craig (which it is, of course), but the film spends too much time on Megan’s unhappiness with her high school friends, her fiancé, her job, her parents, etc. The film would have been better off if it spent more time with Moretz and Rockwell (who always give superb performances in almost everything they do) and had given Megan’s relationship with the father/daughter duo more time to build and breathe. But unfortunately, the film spent precious minutes on Annika’s boarding school-bound friend “Patrick” (Dylan Arnold) and her absentee, lingerie-model mother “Bethany” (Gretchen Mol).
Overall, it was a funny film on growing up and moving on. Although the plot was weaker than what I expected, the cast (especially charming Sam Rockwell) made up for the mediocre material. Keira Knightley did her best to mask her British accent and was believable as the lost, unkempt Megan. Going back to the trailer, the teaser included scenes and dialogue that I wish hadn’t been deleted from the final product. I believe Lynn Shelton’s screenplay had additional material to give the story more depth and live up to its potential - but was most likely cut for time in the editing room. If that is the case, I will have to watch the deleted scenes on the DVD and see if the missing links Laggies’ plot were unfortunately kept on the cutting room floor.
Review © Brigid K. Presecky (11/08/14)
Top Photo: Keira Knightley as “Megan” and Chloë Grace Moretz as “Annika”
Bottom Photo: Sam Rockwell as “Craig,” Keira Knightley as “Megan,” and Chloë Grace Moretz as “Annika”
Yes. Most of the film is focused on the relationship between Megan and Annika. Their relationship is more than talking about their respective boyfriends. Megan pretends to be Annika’s mother at school and eventually takes her to see her real mother (albeit estranged and flighty) exemplifying the bond they’ve created over the course of a week.