Keira Knightley plays Megan, who appears to have it all; a close knit group of friends, a loving father (Jeff Garlin) and an adoring fiancé Anthony (Mark Webber). However the pressure and degree of expectancy placed upon her to be, well, normal, is one she wholeheartedly rejects, instead befriending teenager Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz) and getting back in touch with her more youthful side, when life was somewhat more facile and simplistic. However, any such simplicity is short-lived when she meets her new best friend’s father, Craig (Sam Rockwell).
Where Shelton triumphs in her latest endeavour, is within the unique and intriguing entry point, Megan. Similarly to Kristen Wiig’s Girl Most Likely, we’re dealing with a heavily flawed protagonist who makes a lot of mistakes, really having to earn the viewer’s empathy and endearment. That being said, and while certainly admiring Shelton and Knightley for crafting a role so identifiable at times, Megan’s decisions can be so bizarre and untoward, that you lose that sense of sympathy and become somewhat apathetic towards her cause, which detracts from the entire point of the feature. Thankfully it’s balanced out with the crucially humanised creation of Anthony, who injects a healthy dose of realism into proceedings, as he’s not just the predictable, cliched douche bag we often see with characters of this ilk. Instead he’s inherently good-natured, and thus the sympathy shifts onto him, further highlighting the mistakes made by our protagonist to paint a more naturalistic picture.
The tone of this piece varies effectively too, as we view the world from the viewpoint of somebody rife with nostalgia in Megan, looking back in a romanticised way over her own adolescence, and then through the likes of Annika, currently going through the motions, without the benefit of hindsight. It makes for an interesting series of events, as we see the parents looking at their kids grow up, and then the kids, watching their parents also growing up – enhancing the notion of this perpetual juvenility, ultimately reaching the conclusion that, in our hearts, we never truly change, something Megan epitomises, who a resurgent Knightley portrays with a palpable degree of sincerity.
Shelton – similarly with her preceding productions Touchy Feely and Your Sister’s Sister, has created an amiable, easy to indulge in piece, though one that again struggles to fully engross the viewer on an emotional level, almost brushing over various themes without fully, and substantially, dealing with them. Nonetheless, if you cast Jeff Garlin is in your movie, you can be wholeheartedly let off the hook.