Lynn Shelton

BY Ben HarrisonPublished Oct 30, 2014

Laggies continues director Lynn Shelton's progression towards broader mainstream comedy, abandoning much of the improvisation and nuanced character development that made her earlier work like Humpday and Your Sister's Sister stand out in the contemporary American indie field. There are some low-key charms to be found though, with Shelton's strong ensemble doing their best to lift up the generic script.

Keira Knightley and Chloë Grace Moretz bring winning performances, with Knightley's second go-around at an American accent this year proving much more successful than her attempt in January's Jack Reacher: Shadow Recruit. Knightley plays Megan, a late-20-something in the Frances Ha/Mutual Appreciation tradition of indie lead female roles, trying to figure out the post-grad world and navigating difficult relationships. After a panic-inducing wedding proposal, Megan runs and meets Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz). The two become friends when Megan helps Annika out in a pinch at school. Seeing her chance to escape responsibilities, Megan lies to her friends and tells them she will be attending a writing retreat, when she's really crashing with Annika and her dad (Sam Rockwell).

Grace Moretz is refreshingly dialled-back playing a regular teenager, after a string of supernatural and comic book roles over the last few years. She and Knightley are a strange pair that the film never makes full use of as a comedy duo. Rockwell emerges as the MVP here, bringing much-needed energy and a great sense of comic timing that feels missing throughout the film. Laggies struggles with a shaky narrative and a third act haphazardly structured to bring some sense of urgency to the laid-back vibe of the film.

As with her previous work, though in smaller quantity here, Shelton is able to craft some emotionally-true moments and character beats. Sadly, a lot of this goodwill is spoiled on formulaic rom-com tropes, where characters craft elaborate lies only to be caught and have to make grand declarations of love in the final act.

(VVS Films)

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