Keira Knightley and Chloë Grace Moretz shine in this feel-good comedy about two unlikely friends: Megan, a 28-year-old who's not ready for adulthood, and Annika, a 16-year-old who wonders if there's life after high school. Panicked after her boyfriend proposes, Megan hides out in the house Annika shares with her single dad (Sam Rockwell). As their paths intertwine in surprising and hilarious ways, Megan and Annika help each other to stop lagging...and start living!
If you don't know Seattle director Lynn Shelton by name, then you need to fix that. While occasionally working in television, her strongest suit is her ability to make small independent films that take a minimalistic concept and explore it in the most sincere, likable ,and honest fashion. Like 'Humpday' and 'Your Sister's Sister,' 'Laggies' tells a basic story, this time of a girl who comes to the sudden realization that she doesn't like where she is in life. Uncertain of what she wants, Megan decides to strip the superfluous from her life and revert to that time in her life when she first discovered herself: her teenage years.
Megan (Keira Knightley) has been living her life in the way that she thought she was supposed to. She and her friends plotted out their lives during their high school and have been executing those unrealistic and unsatisfying dreams since then. Ten years later, Megan is about to have a very rude awakening. She's about to realize that the things she wanted then are no longer the things that she wants and that the fairytales we're made to believe as teenagers aren't exactly realistic. For her, coming to this realization is Earth-shattering.
Part of Megan's quarter-life crisis unfolds when she meets Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz), a high school senior who appears to be in the exact same circumstances that Megan was in at that age. Although it might sound creepy, in a completely uncreepy way, Megan attaches herself to Annika for the better part of a week. Her friends and family believe that she's attending a getaway seminar for self-discovery, but she's actually hiding away with teenagers and discovering herself entirely on her own.
As expected, Annika's single-dad Craig (Sam Rockwell) is initially concerned about this newfound 20-something who's sleeping over with his daughter, but as he listens to Megan completely open up to him, he starts to see exactly why Annika is drawn to her as well. For the first time since high school, Megan is honest with those around her. She quickly starts to learn that the vulnerability that comes with it is much better than the fake front she has been wearing in her real life. Sometimes, coming-of-age doesn't happen until you're in your late 20s.
Although filled with some serious and mature content, 'Laggies' is a fairly light film. It's never weighty nor dark. Thanks to great performances by Knightley – who is on an impressive indie movie roll right now – Moretz and Rockwell, it's upbeat and cheerful. Although you might be able to see where it's going, the deeper level of characterization, symbolism and story make it a much more worthy film than its mainstream counterparts. 'Laggies' functions on a single-watch entertaining level, but also serves as a thought-provoking, meaty arthouse picture. No matter which way you come into it nor what you expect of it, 'Laggies' is definitely worthwhile.
If you failed to see 'Laggies' when it played the festival circuit or when it received a limited theatrical release last fall, then now's your chance.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Lionsgate has placed 'Laggies' on a Region A BD-25 disc that comes in a standard single-disc Elite keepcase. Along with it comes a code for the redemption of an Ultraviolet copy and a plain cardboard slipcover that duplicates the absurdly generic cover art. Upon inserting the disc, a pair of loading screens play prior to vanity reels, two FBI warning, a commentary disclaimer and trailers for 'A Most Violent Year,' 'Life After Beth,' 'Obvious Child,' 'The Spectacular Now' and 'The Skeleton Twins.'
'Laggies' carries a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode that's good enough, but could have been better. Instead of featuring a cinematic feel, the video quality has a flatness that's similar to that of a single-camera television series. The sharpness of a digital shoot is absolutely there, but it doesn't feature the detail that we've come to expect of it. Some shots feature fine textures, others are simply okay, but some – while remaining absolutely clear – are oddly lacking detail. Articles of clothing may have texture and patterns in one shot, but appear to be void of texture in the next. A scene in which Sam Rockwell wears and carries a corduroy jacket is a perfect example. One angle features textures, the next does not. Repeat.
Black levels nearly always result in wicked crushing. Dark backgrounds of nighttime shots consume black objects in the foreground. When Keira Knightley drinks in a park with her new friends, her black sweater entirely bleeds into the background so much that it makes her head appear to be floating. Night shots feature this flaw more often than not. Contrast is usually even, but is randomly blown out on the bright side in minute 81. 'Laggies' has a very colorful and warm palette. The vibrancy is cranked up. Although mostly filled with primaries, bright neon lighting in a club setting result in oversaturation.
With a 25-gig Blu-ray disc, I'd expected to see aliasing and bands, but that's not the case.
'Laggies' hits Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that's slightly underwhelming for a six-channel lossless mix these days, but pretty standard for a low-budget indie flick. The film initially kicks off with promise. We watch camcorder footage of Megan and her clique on the night of senior prom. The rough, shaky and raw video footage is accompanied with the type of flat and forward audio that you'd expect if you plugged your 10-year-old video tape camcorder up to your television and revisited those old memories. Luckily, the lack of dynamics was intentional for this scene and doesn't carry through the rest of the film.
The movie's opening is accompanied by pop music whose thumping bass swells from the subwoofer. Unfortunately, the sub will not be active for most of the movie, but it's at least used well on a few occasions. Music, including Ben Gibbard's score, is dynamically spread throughout the channels each time that it's used. The frontman of The Postal Service and Deathcab for Cutie has created a nice and mellow mood-enhancing, space-filling score that's fitting for 'Laggies.'
The vocal track is loud and clear. No dialog is lost despite it featuring purely production audio. No ADR work is noticeable and often time the vocal track carries the characteristics of the environment surrounding it - but not in a hidious and distracting way.
The track is overall light on effects, but that's likely due to the locations and script not frequently calling for it. When effects are used, they're dynamic and their levels are perfect for the usage.
I missed 'Laggies' when it played at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014, so I'm glad it's finally available on Blu-ray. It was worth the wait. Lynn Shelton continues to excel in her proven indie style. Keira Knightley gracefully leads a wonderful large and recognizable cast. The film itself will please casual moviegoers, as well as those looking for more than the average romantic coming-of-age dramedy. Both the audio and video qualities are passable, but could have been stronger. A decent set of special features is included - which is better than expected from a little indie movie - the best being a commentary by Shelton. If you, like me, are loving this ongoing kick of seeing Knightley perfectly shine in contemporary film roles, then don't overlook 'Laggies.'