Keira Knightley, the girl who gets away, in Laggies

by Mark Burger

Laggies is yet another comedy that could easily have gone the route of a standard-issue small-screen sitcom, but thanks to a buoyant cast and some sharp insights, it transcends those sitcom trappings and ascends to a higher, better plane.

Keira Knightley portrays Megan Birch, an all-American twenty-something who, unlike most of her friends, isn’t obsessed with marriage and/or pregnancy. Those simply aren’t high on Megan’s agenda. In fact, she’s not exactly certain what her agenda is, or if she even has one. It’s a concept that many can identify with, male or female, young or old “” and that’s one of the reasons that Laggies hits so many of the right notes.

Taking a “sabbatical” from her parents (Jeff Garlin and Jodi Thelen) and her marriage-minded boyfriend (Mark Webber), Megan impetuously decides to spend a week with her new friend Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz), the teenager whom Megan just as impetuously purchased alcohol for after fleeing a nightmarish wedding reception “” in mid-reception, no less.

Whether it’s discovering or re-inventing herself, Megan isn’t certain. But she is certain that she likes spending time with Annika, who’s going through not-dissimilar teen angst of her own. Megan also likes spending time with Annika’s divorced dad Craig (Sam Rockwell), whose irreverent sense of humor masks a lonely heart. (Yes, we can see where this is likely leading, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.)

Anne Hathaway was originally slated to star, but Knightley (adopting a perfect American accent) makes the role her own, conveying Megan’s neuroses and insecurities in winning and sympathetic fashion.

Knightly has played comedy before, but really gets to shine here. She also enjoys great chemistry with co-stars Moretz (effortlessly appealing) and Kaitlyn Dever, a real scene-stealer as Annika’s best friend Misty.

Rockwell, a versatile actor who doesn’t always get the roles he deserves, gets a juicy one here and makes the most of it. He’s winsome and funny as someone who also longs for irresponsibility and youthful exuberance, but knows full well it cannot be recaptured “” though Greg does have a poster of the ’60s schlock classic The Brain That Wouldn’t Die hanging in his den.

Andrea Seigel’s screenplay, nicely put across by Lynn Shelton’s direction, is bright and glib, but avoids smugness or self-indulgence. Laggies is wistful, funny, sometimes acutely observant and most pleasurable. !

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