Wednesday, October 22, 2014

“Laggies”– Movie Review



This week, I attended a screening by The New York Times Film Club of the new romantic comedy “Laggies”, starring Keira Knightley, Chloë Grace Moretz and Sam Rockwell. 


When a young woman finds her life stalled, she befriends a teenage girl and winds up living with her and the girl’s father – but after an attraction develops between the woman and the father, how will this impact her relationship with the girl and others in her life? 


A decade after graduating from high school, Megan (Knightley) finds her life at something of a standstill.  Despite the fact that she’s achieved an advanced degree, Megan has suddenly become directionless in both her personal and professional life.  Her friends are either getting married, having babies or deeply ensconced in their chosen career path.  Megan, however, doesn’t know what she wants to do; she’s in no hurry to marry Anthony (Mark Webber), her long-time live-in boyfriend, nor is she especially driven to pursue any particular line of work – her current menial job is for the accounting firm operated by her father (Jeff Garlin). 

Having seen her friends pass her by, Megan decides to attend an out-of-town seminar that she believes will get her life back on track; in truth, she mostly needs some time and distance from Anthony, who’s just proposed.  Her plans get derailed when she meets Annika (Moretz), a teenager who comes from a broken home.  After her mother Bethany (Gretchen Mol) took off for a modeling career, Annika is now being raised by her single dad, Craig (Rockwell), a lawyer.  Megan and Annika hit it off immediately; becoming friends, Megan hits her up for a very odd favor:  she wants to move in with Annika and her dad for a few days until she can figure out her life.  Craig reluctantly grants her permission to do so once Megan cooks up a fib that sounds remotely feasible. 

Spending a considerable amount of time together, Megan and Annika eventually develop an almost sisterly relationship.  Complications arise when Craig and Megan find they have an irresistible attraction to each other; unable to ignore the opportunity that fate has presented them, they begin to pursue a romance.  Ultimately, Megan realizes she must come clean to both Craig and Annika.  Predictably, neither are terribly happy when they learn that Megan has been deceiving the two of them all this time and their friendship is fractured.  Will Megan have to return to Anthony and reluctantly get married or can she somehow find a way to seek forgiveness from both Annika and Craig? 


Although the genre of “Laggies” may be characterized as a romantic comedy, it might be more accurately described as a Young Adult Fairy Tale; there’s very little that occurs in this story that even remotely suggests verisimilitude, and would conceivably be a fantasy of the distaff segment of the under-30 market.  From a business standpoint, there is certainly nothing wrong with approach; it’s obviously proven financially viable, given the success of vampire flicks and “The Hunger Games” series.  Taking any of this film seriously, however, would be a mistake of immense proportions.

If “Laggies” had focused on male characters, it likely would have been made by Judd Apatow and starred Seth Rogan and would have instead been titled something like “Slackers”.  While “Slackers” would be more of a disparaging title, “Laggies” sounds almost cute and arguably less insulting; it suggests it’s more socially acceptable to be a “laggy” than a “slacker”.  Arrested development in females is apparently perceived as adorable in young women but buffoonish in young men.  Sexist?  Perhaps.  But this time at least, sexism works in favor of women instead of against them. 

“Laggies” was directed by Lynn Shelton from a script by Andrea Seigel.  Shelton’s previous directorial efforts in feature films earned a reputation of having more gravitas than “Laggies” possesses; by comparison, it seems “Laggies” is the soufflé compared to the director’s earlier work.  With that in mind, “Laggies” would either be a disappointment to fans of Shelton’s more serious films or a reasonably accessible entry-level introduction to her style for those unfamiliar with her movies.  By all accounts, Shelton appears to be a very talented filmmaker and hopefully, her next motion picture will be something more thoughtful. 


Laggies (2014) on IMDb

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