Laggies (2014) / Comedy
aka Say When

MPAA Rated: R for language, some sexual material and teen partying
Running Time: 99 min.

Cast: Keira Knightley, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sam Rockwell, Ellie Kemper, Mark Webber, Jeff Garlin, Gretchen Mol
Small role: Milo Ventimiglia, Zoe Bell, Keith David
Director: Lynn Shelton
Screenplay: Andrea Seigel

Review published November 12, 2014

On its surface, Laggies (aka Say When in its UK release) is yet another independent film, thought with a modicum of star power, about a 20-something woman stuck in life limbo, stagnating on what she wants to do, clinging desperately to the freedom of her youth and lack of responsibilities until forced to.

Set in Seattle, Keira Knightley (Jack Ryan, Begin Again) plays 28-year-old Megan, who decides she needs a breather from life after her longtime boyfriend proposes, and her parents demonstrate their marriage is not as solid after 30 years as she had thought. After befriending a 16-year-old stranger named Annika (Moretz, The Equalizer), she stays at the teen's house, eventually is caught by her single dad Craig (Rockwell, Better Living Through Chemistry), whom she also befriends, and proceeds to relive her teenage years with Annika's crew as she tries to gain perspective.

Mumblecore darling Lynn Shelton (Touchy Feely, Your Sister's Sister) directs this lively, amusing take, based on a screenplay by first-timer Andrea Seigel, on the way some people "lag" in coming of age.  While the film is slight in its themes, it is still quite a pleasant viewing for an indie film, full of well-drawn characterizations and funny situations that keep the momentum from, well, lagging.  The film's ending does get a bit squishy and pat, but the delight in the journey will forgive the destination, as we do genuinely hope for a happy resolution for these characters we come to know and like.

Laggies is nicely acted by Keira Knightley in one of her more appealing characters in some time, though she is perhaps too youthful in appearance to buy in the role given that she could pass for a decade younger than her real age.  Scenes where she has to pretend to be Annika's mother, or when Craig notices right away how much older she looks than typical high schoolers, seem like they must have been writer for someone more mature (reportedly, Anne Hathaway and Rebecca Hall were approached to star, initially).  One unintentional laugh I enjoyed was Megan protesting Annika's plan to be her mother in a meeting with the school counselor stating, "We look nothing like each other," in a movie in which angular waif Knightley's father is played by round-ish and portly Jeff Garlin.

Nevertheless, Knightley owns the role in most other respects.  The same can be said for lighthearted turns from Chloe Grace Moretz and an especially appealing Sam Rockwell, who seems very much at home in this kind of comedic wounded bird persona, masking his inner remorse with a sense of humor, he has cultivated for quite some time on screen.

If you enjoy films about people stuck between stations after their college days, trying to figure out what the first rung to adulthood should be, if they even want to take that step, Laggies will likely meet well with you.  Like the pet tortoise Megan finds to irresistible, she might be slower than most, but she will get to her destination eventually.

 Qwipster's rating::

2014 Vince Leo