PFF23: Laggies (Lynn Shelton, USA)

There’s a line that exists between deftly borrowed and embarrassingly contrived. Lynn Shelton’s Laggies seems as if its trying to crushingly reinvent the latter, what with poorly realized key components doing very little to evoke even a lone positive emotion. Documenting twentysomething Megan’s (Keira Knightley) breakdown triggered by her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, the permanent adolescent inexplicably shacks up with teenage Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz) for a week to collect herself and avoid responsibility. Worrying everyone in the process and making increasingly poor decisions a grown woman never should, Megan’s possible self-realization remains in foreseeable limbo.

Arrested adolescence in cinema at its best resides within Jason Reitman’s Young Adult – a darkly comedic character study that handled corresponding themes with poise despite Diablo Cody’s overtly pithy writing style. Laggies, on the other hand, is the light version of such a film; an effort that overshadows the weighty commentary on not growing up with lowbrow comedy and nigh-unbelievable silliness.

Surrounded by loved ones that love her in equal measure, Megan’s handling of her personal relationships is horrid. Even despite what Megan witnesses at a friend’s wedding, her decision to simply go A.W.O.L. is conceptually bizarre and handled with zero regard for others. Do these people deserve to be left entirely in the dark? Not really, and it’s a shame that Laggies continually cheers Megan on, specifically in the “You go, girl!” sense that defends her decision-making skills or lack thereof.

Finding but a semblance of solace in Knightley and Rockwell’s talents, Laggies is one head-scratcher of an R-rated comedy that feels like a teenager’s misguided perception of adulthood. Core conflict, although present, is waved away almost as soon as its presented, thus transforming the film from potentially affecting to one-dimensional and hamstrung by questionable writing. While at least partially humorous and laced with chemistry between leads, Laggies can’t make up for its naive illustration of familiar subjectivity and themes.

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