Keira Knightley continues to open up as an actress with this sparky comedy. As in Begin Again and The Imitation Game, she taps into her own lively personality to create a punchy character who's loose, likeable and prickly. And while the film has a warm, engaging tone that's often both honest and funny, it also feels somewhat contrived as it pushes Knightley's character into corner after corner. As with films like Humpday and Your Sister's Sister, director Lynn Shelton takes a spirited idea and ends up playing it oddly safe.
It's set in Seattle, where Megan (Knightley) is in her late-20s, horrified to see her close circle of friends settling down into predictable lives involving marriage and children. So when her longtime boyfriend Anthony (Mark Webber) proposes, just as she discovers that her dad (Jeff Garlin) has cheated on her mom, Megan makes a run for it. At a convenience shop, a group of teens asks her to buy some alcohol, and suddenly she has a new best friend in Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz). As they bond, Annika invites Megan to stay at her house. So Megan invents a story about attending a self-help conference and lays low, hanging out with her new teen gang like it's the good old days. But Annika's single dad Craig (Sam Rockwell) begins to challenge Megan to realise that perhaps there are benefits to growing up.
Yes, it's obvious from the moment Megan and Craig start bickering where this is headed. And these predictable plot turns feed into the standard rom-com structure of the screenplay, right up to climactic scenes at both an airport and the prom. There isn't a single surprise along the way, but Knightley's breezy performance is more than enough to carry the audience with her on this odyssey. Effortlessly charming even when she's being a jerk, she develops a wonderful improv-like chemistry with both Moretz and Rockwell, while the bit players add plenty of texture to each episodic sequence.
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