By Chaz Lipp
How important to a film’s success is its title? You may never have heard of Laggies as it received a very limited theatrical release, despite an eye-catching cast headlined by Keira Knightley. Now that you have, you may be puzzled by the titular term. Apparently so was director Lynn Shelton when she agreed to bring Andrea Seigel’s screenplay to life. In a Toronto Film Festival Q&A, Shelton explained that Seigel convinced her that “laggie” was common slang to describe an individual who was, basically, lagging behind. Halfway through production, it dawned on Shelton that no one – outside of Seigel and her circle of friends – actually uses the word.
Best to ignore the odd title then and instead focus on what works in this low-key dramedy. Knightley plays Megan, a woman pushing 30 but without a clear-cut path in life. She still hangs with her old high school buds, including Allison (Ellie Kemper) – who’s soon-to-be wed and encouraging Megan to marry her longtime boyfriend Anthony (Mark Webber). But Megan would rather have make-your-own pizza night with dad (Jeff Garlin), who’s all too happy to indulge his daughter’s amiable slackerdom. She even twirls a sign outside her dad’s accounting firm, hoping to attract tax prep business.
Panicking at the thought of marrying a guy she, deep down, knows she no longer connects with, Megan decides to hide out for awhile. Though Seigel’s screenplay originally set the action in Orange County, Washingtonian Shelton transplanted the story to Seattle. Drinking game idea: do a shot every time someone mentions “Orcas Island.” That’s where Megan claims to be attending a conference, when in reality she’s hanging with her new friend Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz). In a weak moment of empathetic irresponsibility, Megan bought the high school-age Annika and her pals some beer and wine. She finds herself relating more closely to Annika’s teen angst than her own friends’ lives.
Though Laggies sets up some interesting dynamics between Megan and her adult friends, it’s more interested in exploring her friendship with Annika. The girl’s absentee mom (Gretchen Mol) wants nothing to do with her; her workaholic lawyer dad Craig (Sam Rockwell) is well-meaning but preoccupied. From the moment Megan and Craig lock eyes, it’s pretty clear where this is ultimately heading. However predictable it may be, there’s an agreeable hangdog charm to this flyweight tale of love, friendship, and ‘important decisions.’ Perhaps Seigel’s screenplay could’ve benefited from a few more drafts to really hone the relationships, but Knightley, Rockwell, and Moretz milk these characters for all their worth.
The Blu-ray’s best feature is a selection of deleted scenes which are actually worth watching (they include a few insights into the characters). There are two featurettes; one a traditional ‘making of’ and the other all about shooting in Seattle. Director Shelton also provides an audio commentary.
Laggies Images: A24 Films / Lionsgate