Who wouldn’t fall in love with a 28-year-old woman who makes no use of a grad school education, shows no interest in a job, buys alcohol for a 16-year-old sophomore she meets outside a liquor store, masquerades as the girl’s mom and then goes to live in her new best friend’s house to “get my head together”?
Well, I wouldn’t. But you can tell, as soon as she meets the girl’s scruffily charming single dad – a successful divorce lawyer who’s funny and smart – that someone is about to.
That’s the essence of “Laggies,” whose title apparently refers in Southern California to an entourage of girls who do everything together. (Writer Andrea Seigel comes from there; director Lynn Shelton lives near Seattle, and that’s where the movie takes place.)
Meg (Keira Knightley) lives with a photographer (Mark Webber) who has loved her since high school. (This makes him a bore, of course.) Meg sees her married father (Jeff Garlin) having sex with a stranger at a wedding; this sends her in a funk to a liquor store, where she buys beer and wine for Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz) and her 16-year-old pals.
She hangs out with them most of the night, which prompts Annika to call Meg later when she needs to be bailed out of a jam. Meg pitches in, requesting in turn that she spend a week in Annika’s house while pretending to be at a job-training seminar. Good thing that Craig, the attorney dad, takes to her immediately.
Do people like this exist outside the minds of screenwriters? Is there a school guidance counselor so stupid she’d believe Meg was the mother of a 16-year-old who looked nothing like her? Are there really intelligent professional dads so trusting they’d leave the house in charge of a stranger after talking to her for an hour or so – and let her move in for a week?
Knightley does a remarkable job in a role written for an American actress (reportedly Anne Hathaway, before she took “Interstellar”). Moretz and Rockwell give decent support. But you can bail out a boat with gaping holes only so long before it sinks.