by Britt of Eclectic Pop
Much has been made about the state of Millennials – the current crop of twenty/thirty-somethings inhabiting the world. For anyone who has decried the Peter Pan generation for their lack of maturity and overall sense of entitlement, “Laggies” does them no favors by furthering the label with a lead character who lives down to the reputation. Megan (Keira Knightley) is a sullen college grad who lives with her boyfriend (Mark Webber), works for her dad (Jeff Garlin) and hangs out with the same group of friends she has had since high school. At first glance, none of these behaviors point to a mean person or one who is particularly struggling. However, she is judged by her peers for her lack of personal and professional progress and has gradually disengaged from everyone around her.
Abruptly forced to face adulthood when her boyfriend proposes and her perspective on her dad is unceremoniously fractured, she makes a break for it. Having arrived at a grocery store, she agrees to buy a case of beer for a group of teenagers and then heads out with them to imbibe and forget her troubles for the evening. This short jaunt back into adolescence proves to be, not so short lived. After returning home and solidifying plans to marry her boyfriend, she lies about taking a last minute self-help retreat before eloping. In reality, she winds up bunking with Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz) the teenage girl she befriended the night before and the girl’s single dad.
Cue a very awkward coming of adulthood dramedy. In a blind helping the blind scenario, Megan becomes a de facto quasi-mentor to the rebellious “older than her years” Annika. As a role model, young Annika couldn’t do much worse. Megan is a compulsive liar who hasn’t matured past the juvenile antics of a 13 year old. Instead of the film scoffing at her behavior, it celebrates it. Other characters are smitten with her lack of integrity and her contribution to the delinquency of a youth. Even Annika’s put upon single father (a wasted Sam Rockwell) is quickly cast under her spell. A rushed and hard to swallow romance with Megan ensues and despite the film’s best attempt to get one to invest in their burgeoning relationship, it is all presented taking place within about three scenes and most of that “bonding” occurs when they’re inebriated, so all things considered their connection is staggeringly shallow.
When she begins the film, Megan’s conduct is a victimless affront. As the story develops that takes a turn, when it becomes clear she is doing all the wrong things for all the wrong reasons. At some point, you wonder if her lies will ever catch up with her and whether they’re will be any consequences. She aids and abets Annika and her friends drinking underage, which the movie winks at and encourages Annika to deceive her father, actively undermining their relationship. As much as the film wants to be a comedy, none of this behavior is funny. While comedies are often set around a comedy of errors, “Laggies” never acts like its characters have done anything wrong; glorifying a woman-child whose motives are solely founded in self-interest. As a result, it lacks the redemptive quality of Lynn Shelton’s charming “My Sister’s Sister”, in which characters make poor decisions and face the music for them. A key component “Laggies” misses entirely.
Keira Knightley gives a natural performance, accentuated with a relatable sensibility. Co-star Chloe Grace Moretz pulls off one of her best performances to date, coming across far more animated than in recent roles. Kaitlyn Dever, who wowed in the 2013 indie drama “Short Term 12”, proves to be a scene stealer as Annika’s perky best friend. Why someone with her talent is still playing best friend roles is anyone’s guess.
Sharing a story structure heavily akin to a Hallmark Channel movie, “Laggies” doesn’t deliver the likable characters the crown network often does. However, the core formula remains the same. The lead character is headed down one track with their introductory love interest, when they meet the real love they’ve been looking for. With 10 minutes of the movie left, a deception is revealed that threatens to ruin everything, leaving the viewers to fret over whether it will all work out. In the case of “Laggies”, caring what becomes of these vapid souls isn’t worth the anxiety. Rating: 5/10
Britt is the creator of Eclectic Pop, the blog where pop culture gets eclectic by highlighting the best in movies, music, TV, and books. She is a contributing film critic for Following Films and guest on War Machine vs. War Horse. Below you can find the review from that podcast: