Laggies (C). It seemed like this 2014 release was barely in the theaters at all, even though it stars the winsome Chloë Grace Moretz (Dark Shadows) and the toothsome Keira Knightley (Atonement). It isn’t terrible, but it isn’t very good either. Knightley stars as Megan, a 28-year-0ld Seattle woman who has failed to launch. She’s been dating her high-school boyfriend for 10 years, and despite having some sort of graduate degree she “works” by twirling an advertising sign in front of her dad’s accounting firm. She chances to meet some cool high-schoolers, and she winds up running away from her real life and staying with Annika (Moretz) and her divorced dad (Sam Rockwell, Moon) for a week. Not sure I’d let some stranger move into my house for a week on my kid’s say-so, but okay. Ellie Kemper (They Came Together) has a thankless supporting role as a humorless member of Megan’s old high-school posse. Gretchen Mol (The Notorious Bettie Page) pops up in a tiny role. It’s not a very believable movie, and Megan isn’t a particular believable (or likable) character. Still, I liked this better than Your Sister’s Sister, also by director Lynn Shelton.
The Notorious Bettie Page (B). I knew very little about 50’s era pin-up model Bettie Page, but I wanted to see this movie for two reasons: (1) it has gotten some pretty good reviews, and (2) it stars the lovely Gretchen Mol (Laggies). Mol was touted as The Next Big Thing a few years ago, and even though she never became a superstar I have enjoyed her work in other movies. Anyhoo, this is the story of a pretty girl from Nashville, Tennessee, who moved to New York City to be an actress but instead found herself modeling for men’s magazines that catered to, ahem, a variety of tastes and interests. And although she never found success as an actress, she achieved her own brand of fame (or notoriety) as the “pin-up queen of the universe.” In an amusing role-reversal, David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck) plays puritanical Senator Estes Kefauver, who is conducting hearings into the harmful effects of pornography just before Playboy and its imitators swept the field and obsoleted the small-time operators that the likes of Page worked for. The film is an interesting slice of American life in a bygone era, but Mol’s enthusiasm and good looks are what really make it work. Page’s personality was an unusual combination of Christian fundamentalism and total lack of inhibition in front of the camera, and Mol nails it. Good movie.