Sunday, October 26, 2014

Movie with Abe: Laggies

Directed by Lynn Shelton
Released October 24, 2014

There are two vastly different concepts about childhood in cinema that are not necessarily mutually exclusive. The first is that kids rarely want to grow up, holding on to their younger years as fervently and passionately as Peter Pan. The second is that many performers, particularly actresses, play characters considerably younger than they are, which can make a high school movie seem hopelessly unrealistic. In “Laggies,” Keira Knightley gets to do the former while simulating the latter, taking advantage of what might be one last opportunity to avoid having to face being an adult.

Knightley, who is actually twenty-nine years old, plays Megan, a woman about that age. Megan is first seen twirling a sign outside of her father’s accounting office, using the easy gig as yet another delay tactic to push off figuring out what to do with her counseling degree. Her friends pretend to be much more sophisticated, tackling the ideas of marriage and family, but Megan sees their interests the way the film portrays them: vain and unimportant. A moment of crisis at a friend’s wedding inadvertently puts Megan in contact with a more familiar and recognizable crowd: a group of high schoolers with much less dramatic problems. Taking a brief vacation from her life, Megan befriends Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz) and relives the glory days of having no responsibility.

The concept of “Laggies” requires a good deal of suspension of disbelief, since Knightley could pass for a college student, as many high schoolers note in the film, but it’s hard to believe that she’d have such an easy time fitting in. Annika’s father Craig (Sam Rockwell) interrogates her and points out the strangeness of her situation, and while it serves as good comedy fodder, the conversation doesn’t go much further, and Megan’s situation is accepted as reasonable and unremarkable. It makes for some good fun, but it’s hard to take this film seriously. Simultaneously, what passes for Megan’s adult life hardly seems authentic.

Like its main character’s attitude, this film is in no hurry to get anywhere or to make any important conclusions about life. The film’s dramatic developments are extremely predictable, and the script opts for entertaining lines rather than a fuller, more compelling story. Knightley, donning an American accent, is fine, and Moretz, who shows immense promise, isn’t challenged by her role. Rockwell, on the other hand, follows up “The Way, Way Back” with another on-the-ball, energetic performance that demonstrates that he’s well saved for dramatic comedies like this one. Director Lynn Shelton’s previous two films, “Touchy Feely” and the fantastic “Your Sister’s Sister,” were layered explorations of human emotion and interaction, and this enjoyable but unmemorable film just isn’t in the same league.


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