THE IDEA that the current crop of twentysomethings are indulgently wallowing in a state of prolonged adolescence has never had much traction for me; I'm glad I graduated from college into an economy where entry-level jobs still existed. However wrongheaded the notion, though, it's been an undeniable boon for the coming-of-age genre (the best genre), which has gradually extended its tentacles well beyond high school to encompass 30-year-olds experiencing all the symptoms of teen angst.
Laggies is another movie about fetching young women who don't have their shit together. The women in question are an actual adolescent, Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz, proving once again she's one of the best young actresses around) and 28-year-old Megan (Keira Knightley), underemployed and recently engaged to her high school sweetheart. The two strike up a friendship that leads Megan to take full flight from her adult responsibilities, hiding out at Annika's house and reliving her teenaged glory days with Annika and her funny crop of misfit friends.
This premise, though, suggests more self-awareness than the film ultimately delivers.
Director Lynn Shelton is a Pacific Northwest hometown hero by way of Seattle, where she made her bones with charmingly lo-fi sex comedy Humpday. Laggies is the first film Shelton directed that she didn't also write, and it really, really shows: Laggies is full of excellent performances and perceptive, character-driven moments, but the framework is a clockwork-predictable romantic comedy. This might sound like a good thing—a smart romcom!—but Shelton's strengths as a director work against her in this context. The characters are realistic and fully fleshed out; their interactions are plausible; there is meaningful depth and subtext to every relationship. But, oh yeah, it's a romantic comedy, so a bunch of stupid shit happens that real people would never actually do. The contrast is jarring and frustrating, neither fun enough for a romcom nor grounded enough for a really insightful character study.