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Film Review: "Laggies"


In Lynn Shelton's amiable new comedy, "Laggies," Keira Knightley plays Megan, a 28-year-old woman still stubbornly clinging to adolescence. Aimless in both her personal and professional life, Megan may technically be grown up, but she's not truly an adult. Despite possessing an advanced degree in counseling, she earns a paycheck twirling a sign for her father's accounting business. She's hanging out with the same group of friends she's had since high school, but feeling increasingly disconnected from them as they all start to get married and have babies. She doesn't even realize how unfulfilled she is until her high school sweetheart, Anthony (Mark Webber, "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World") proposes marriage during her friend's wedding, and she freaks, impulsively fleeing both the reception and the life of responsibility he's offering.

After hightailing it, Megan runs into 16-year-old Annika (Chloƫ Grace Moretz) and her group of friends outside a liquor store, where they're on the hunt for a booze hookup. Suddenly, Megan's found a group she feels comfortable with, and before long she finds herself crashing on Annika's bedroom floor. She decides to stick around, hiding out in her new friend's home, at first without the knowledge of Annika's father, Craig, and then (once he's been won over by his new houseguest's charms) with his reluctant permission. Though Craig is divorced and heartbroken after being abandoned by his ex-wife, he maintains an acerbic sense of humor -- mainly because he's played by Sam Rockwell, and that should tell you everything you need to know about where his relationship with Megan is headed. Megan gives herself a week to lay low and figure things out, telling Anthony that she's attending a career-counseling seminar out of town.

"Laggies" understands the comforting appeal of regressing back into adolescence, fitting squarely in the well-worn tradition of arrested development comedy. And it doesn't really break any new ground. Shelton (working from a script by young-adult author and first-time screenwriter Andrea Seigel) opts for an unobtrusive directing style, giving the material a slightly more realistic feel than it might otherwise have had, and while the plot is predictable and too often content to play it safe, it's so gosh-darn likeable that those things start to feel like part of its charm. Though she's smoothed out the edges of her traditionally shaggy style, Shelton maintains her gift for getting great work out of her actors. Knightley makes for a warm, relatable heroine, and it's easy to find yourself rooting for her happiness. She shares a nice, big-sister sort of chemistry with Moretz and generates convincingly romantic sparks with Rockwell, who brings his typical sly charisma to the role. The scenes he shares with Knightley represent the film at its best, and it's not a surprise -- has there ever been a film that isn't improved immeasurably by the sheer presence of Sam Rockwell?