Although I am not a woman, I have a similar feeling towards movies directed by women that black people have towards the work of Tyler Perry. Women are in the driver's seat on so few films—in or out of Hollywood—that I would see a movie directed by a woman just on principle. I've never seen anything else by Lynn Shelton, who directed Laggies, but I've heard good things about her previous work, which includes Hump DayYour Sister's Sister, and Touchy Feely.

All of this is to say that I'm really disappointed in you, Laggies. You had had me at "hello." And then I found out you star Keira Knightley, Chloë Grace-Moretz, Sam Rockwell, Kaitlyn Dever, and Ellie Kemper, which sweetened the pot even more. I really wanted to like you, so it's too bad that you're just not very good.

Megan (Knightley) is a twenty eight-year-old woman who is going nowhere fast. Although she has a longtime relationship with her high school sweetheart, Anthony (Mark Webber), she has no sense of direction with her life. When she's not swinging a sign around in front of her father's (Jeff Garlin) accountancy firm, she's avoiding career-help meetings that her boyfriend cajoles her into attending. She also has a strained friendship with her high school friends, one of whom (Kemper) is getting married. Megan panics at the wedding when Anthony decides to propose to her—and when she sees Dad getting a handie from the bride's mom—and bails. She runs into teenaged Annika (Moretz), Misty (Dever) and their friends, who convince her to buy them booze and hang out with them. Megan impulsively decides to stay at Annika's house for a week, under the pretense that she's at a career seminar, to sort out her feelings. That's when she meets Craig (Rockwell), Annika's dad, with whom she quickly falls in love.

I can accept a certain amount of logical inconsistency from a movie, especially when it is being billed as a comedy. But this movie dooms itself from the start because there is no particularly good reason why Annika looks up to Megan, or why Craig would ever allow a strange adult to hang out with his teenaged daughter, much less stay in his home. Megan is part of an increasingly lengthy cinematic list of young women experiencing quarter life crises, one that includes individuals like Hannah on Girls and the title character of Frances Ha. In the right creative hands, these women can be simultaneously infuriating, lovable, and unforgettable. It's not Knightley's fault that Megan is not on the same level as the aforementioned characters; the script, written by Andrea Seigel, is to blame.

After the initial premise is established, we follow Megan deeper and deeper down a rabbit hole of lies and self-deception that would ordinarily get an adult thrown in jail (something that happens to Megan for silly reasons that I nevertheless will not spoil). We don't sympathize with Megan because she is ludicrous in her personal failings. We buy it that Greta Gerwig's Frances would ship off to Paris at the word "go" because it was well-established that she is the kind of person who would do such a thing. It's okay for a character to feel ill-defined in a movie, which creates dramatic tension, but it's unacceptable that the audience have such a shaky grasp of who Megan is as a person. We are baffled by her behavior because we simply have no context for why she would do the things she does. The film attempts to explain it away in the third act when Megan has a sudden realization, but by then we can't even care.

What saves this movie from being a complete disaster are the performances. As I alluded to before, Knightley is trying her hardest with what she has been given, and even her American accent is convincing. Rockwell is wonderful, as usual, and he has great chemistry with Knightley, although "because she's so cute" is an insufficient reason to trust a complete stranger with your daughter's company. Kemper's comedic talents are wasted on a small and thankless role, as a woman who exists to give Megan crap for being immature. Moretz does her best, and is particularly appealing when onscreen with Dever, who is the best part of the movie. Her Misty is sardonic, dry, and hilarious. She receives little character development, but Dever communicates everything there is to know about her from her mannerisms, clothing, and choice of hairstyle. Hers is a briefly seen but dynamite performance that is the complete opposite of her breakthrough in last year's Short Term 12.

Another thing that could have helped the film is if it were funnier. Shelton has a reputation for making dramatic comedies, but I laughed fewer than ten times—and the film tries many more than that to go for jokes, with pregnant pauses included for the audience to laugh. I believe that this is the first film directed by Shelton that she did not write herself; perhaps she would have had a better handle on it had she penned the screenplay. Finally, Shelton shows that she's just not much of a filmmaker. She usually works in Seattle, which is where the film takes place. However, we only know that when we see the Space Needle from one of the film's many aerial shots. It is merely workmanlike in its presentation, and leans heavily on the script and performances to tell the story.

Laggies should have been good, given Shelton's pedigree, but it's just one big shrug of a movie. What a bummer.

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