Senior prom is the quintessential moment for teens. It’s that one event, the last magical moment with all of your friends before everyone grows up and moves on. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Unless you start hanging out with 17-year-olds when you’re 10 years out of high school and go to their prom.
Megan (Keira Knightly) starts doing just that when she befriends Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz) in Lynn Shelton’s newest film “Laggies.”
Megan is 10 years out of high school with little success in her life. Her long-time friends are getting married and having babies while she’s holding the sign on the side of the road for her dad’s (Jeff Garlin) business. When her boyfriend Anthony (Mark Webber) proposes, she disappears for a week and hides out at Annika’s home with Annika’s single dad (Sam Rockwell).
The concept is as strange as it seems. Megan is immature and frustrating in almost all of her decisions, making the viewer cringe as she does everything from flop on her parents’ couch like a teenager, to going to parties with actual teenagers.
The film plays like if “Bridesmaids” were a rom-com. Except Kristen Wiig’s brilliant performance has been replaced with Knightly’s decent one, and all of the excellent comedy has been replaced with falling in love in four days. The films both begin similarly, with Knightly talking with her best friend Allison (Elie Kemper, a “Bridesmaids” alum) about the upcoming wedding. Knightly is on a completely different playing field, 10-years behind her friends maturity-wise.
But instead of trying to get her life together, she blames her relationship with Anthony as the reason she’s been stuck in a high school mentality for her 20s, one of the many scream-worthy moments of Megan’s behavior.
It’s not Anthony, he seems decent. Knightly’s character is everything that’s wrong with media portrayal of Milennials. The laziness, running away from problems, not working — it’s all part of the shtick. Instead of working on her own problems she ends up in a relationship with Annika’s father, a man 10+ years her senior.
Couple of problems here: Love does not happen in four days. No matter how idealistic your rom-com, a four-day love story is not plausible. Especially if the four-day love story begins as the heroine hangs out with her love interest’s daughter. The message viewers are left with at the end of the film is, “Run away to on older man with how life together, that’s how to work out your problems!” Is Megan moving in with her new teen BFF and her love interest? How will she remedy playing a mother figure in Annika’s life after she’s already bought been the cool older friend? Things will for sure go smoothly for them.
“Laggies” is the first screenplay directed by Lynn Shelton (“Your Sister’s Sister,” “Humpday”) that she didn’t write. Shelton’s past films have relied highly on improvisation and not a set script, so working with Andrea Seigel’s screenplay was a departure for the director. The film is Seigel’s first screenplay, and it shows in the messy storylines and lazily thought through plot.
Despite the poor material, the actors do a fairly good job. Kemper really shines, especially in the ridiculous rehearsed first dance at her wedding. Save for a few moments when her accent slipped through, Knightly did what she could with the material. She made Megan convincing, even though the character isn’t worth being convinced of at all.
“Laggies” – 2 stars
MPAA rating: R (for language, some sexual material and teen partying)
Running time: 1:40