Call them slackers or adults with or “arrested development” issues. Or call them “Laggies.”
As the new comedy “Laggies” suggests, some of us are just a little late growing up. Even after we’ve taken those tentative steps into adulthood, we’re hearing the sirens’ call of our irresponsible teens-to-early-20s.
That’s what Megan realizes when she buys some “cool” teens booze they’re too young to purchase themselves. Annika (Chloe) asked so sweetly. And the pushing-30 Megan (Keira Knightley) was having such a bad day.
She has college degrees that she doesn’t use. She just helps daddy’s accounting firm by sexily spinning a sign on a street corner during tax season.
Her reliable, dull live-in-lover (Mark Webber) is ready to pop the question. Her dad (Jeff Garlin) is cheating on her mom. Her peers are married, mommies who have started to roll their eyes at her jokes. She is alone in her irony, because her girlfriends have abandoned it.
“Maybe actually,” she wonders, “they’re the ones telling the jokes and I’m the one who’s missing them.”
She flees that world when she hooks up with Annika and her crew. One kid’s parents are divorcing, but all their concerns are teen concerns. Megan could use a few of those. She can handle them now. Annika needs her to impersonate her mother a meeting with the school guidance counselor? Sure.
That leads to a sleepover and that becomes something more permanent, right under the nose of Annika’s single-parent (Sam Rockwell), a “cool” dad, a smart-aleck divorce lawyer who’s a little disconnected from the kid’s life. He’s troubled by the presence of this odd influence on his daughter living under his roof.
“Please don’t let this decision become bad parenting on my part.”
Whatever “Laggies” had going for it up to that moment, it becomes a better movie when Rockwell’s character Craig steps into it. The banter turns sharper, the observations about adulthood, parenting and neglected kids more pointed and spot on. There’s a romantic spark, a greater potential for hurt, betrayal and a possible parenting disaster.
Is Megan cut out for motherhood, foster motherhood or even being a godmother to her girlfriend’s new baby?
“There’s no such thing as ‘The Cool Mom.’ Cool Mom’s really just a bad mom, or the mom that’s become a joke.”
“Laggies” covers familiar ground — kids trying to grow up too fast, adults trying to put it off — with just enough wit and warmth to make us push thoughts of how inappropriate everyone is behaving into the background. Moretz is as real as ever, and Knightley manages Megan’s transition from annoyingly naive to adorably confused. But for that she has help, and for that she and we should thank Rockwell. In this case, the actor most accomplished at playing slackers is the one who gets everybody — and the movie — to grow up.
MPAA Rating: R for language, some sexual material and teen partying
Cast: Keira Knightley, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sam Rockwell
Credits: Directed by Lynn Shelton, screenplay by Andrea Seigel. An A24 release.
Running time: 1:39