Laggies: Slackerness in Seattle

A comedy from director Lynn Shelton

Wearing its sweetly oddball charm like a badge of honor, Laggies concerns a 28-year-old Seattle miss named Megan (Keira Knightley) who hasn’t quite got the hang of adulthood. Megan’s not quite a slacker (OK, so she’s still a sign twirler for her tax adviser dad, played by Jeff Garlin), but she definitely has some emotional lag time compared to the rest of her gang.

Yet this comedy from director Lynn Shelton and writer Andrea Seigal suggests that maybe Megan’s inactions seem more like subconscious reactions to her peers. The film opens with shakycam video of their high school prom, when teen wildness was a given, then shifts 10 years to affirm that Megan’s chums are now boring sticks in the mud, exemplified by gal pal Allison (Bridesmaids’ Ellie Kemper) as she prepares for her wedding.

Meanwhile, Megan’s longtime live-in relationship with high school sweetheart Anthony (Mark Webber) has reached a plateau of utter blandness. When the meddlesome Allison spurs Anthony into asking Megan for her hand in marriage, an alarmed Megan does the only sensible solution. She impulsively crashes for a week with her new teen friend Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz from the Kick Ass flicks), who is still dealing with the divorce aftermath between her lawyer dad Craig (The Way, Way Back’s Sam Rockwell) and lingerie model mom Bethany (Boardwalk Empire’s Gretchen Mol).

It’s best to coast along with the unlikely plot points that dominate Seigal’s script and instead enjoy Laggies for its comic rhythms and warm performances. Director Shelton’s eye for detail contributes plenty of neat touches, such as a quick visual featuring Anthony’s supposedly helpful Post-It note that informs Megan to “be a hammer, not a nail,” while the inevitable breakup sequence actually features separate reaction shots of each character in their aloneness to signal that it’s really over. There are even sight gags concerning an anorexic turtle named Lynn, presumably after director Shelton, as well as a satiric Dancing with the Stars parody featuring Kemper.

Chloe Grace Moretz handles the teen angst department with a persuasive performance, while veteran scene-stealer Sam Rockwell is still one of indie cinema’s most underrated treasures. And Keira Knightley ditches her Brit accent and ratchets her comedic timing to expertly portray a vulnerable 20-something’s quirky journey from arrested adolescence to uncertain adulthood. Knightley, who is in every scene for Laggies, offers an impressive and amusing showcase for her talents.

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