It's usually men who have trouble growing up in American movies and TV shows, from the pitiable buffoonery of sitcom dads to the all-out idiocy of Adam Sandler's oeuvre and the self-aware stoner shenanigans of Judd Apatow's universe. While the ladies have started to get their fair share of immature role models, movies like Bridesmaids and series like "Girls" have only begun to address the imbalance. That's why Laggies, about a 28-year-old woman fleeing adult responsibility for the comforts of adolescence, is refreshing even as it ambles predictably along.
The vague disconnect that Maggie (Keira Knightley) feels toward her life and her more ambitious peers comes to a head one night at a friend's wedding. She spots her accountant dad (Jeff Garlin) making out with a woman who's not his wife, and when her longtime boyfriend (Mark Webber) pops the question shortly afterward, she flees into the night.
After buying beer for a couple of teens she meets outside a convenience store, Maggie bonds instantly with one of them, Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz, for once playing a normal person who doesn't kill people or get in fatal car crashes).
Before you know it, Maggie has fled her old life and started crashing at Annika's house, managing to trick her divorced dad (Sam Rockwell, as sharp and scruffy as usual) into thinking she's a friend from school. That bit requires a little suspension of disbelief, but Knightley's awkward girlishness and Rockwell's ability to play dumb (even as a smart character) make it work. Of course, the charade can't go on forever, and the sparks between Rockwell and Knightley must fly at some point, but it's fun while it lasts.
This is Seattle-based director Lynn Shelton's most conventional, star-studded effort yet, following raggedy comedies such as Humpday, My Sister's Sister, and Touchy Feely. It's still got a hometown, homemade feel, which seems to help Moretz and Knightley settle into their comfy roles.
Laggies doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it puts an engaging spin on the old canard about high school being the best years of our lives.
Dir. Lynn Shelton
Tin Pan Theater