Leigh, a former valedictorian “most likely to succeed” quits her reporter job in New York and returns to the place she last felt happy: her childhood home. Her parents are worried about her and her old friends can’t believe she’s washed up in Connecticut with no prospects. To make things worse, Leigh’s only ambition is to get work as a lifeguard where she starts a relationship with a troubled teenager more than a decade her junior.
Leigh (Kristen Bell) is reliving her adolescence, but it doesn’t seem to be making her any happier. She’s too young for a midlife crisis, but that’s essentially what this is, an existential reckoning. She’s depressed and lost; she went after everything she was supposed to but is finding adulthood to be not all it’s cracked up to be. Of course, none of her friends seem all that happy either. What magic ingredient is missing?
Personally, I found it hard to sympathize with Leigh. Kristen Bell tries her best as the lifeguard on duty to show that she is swimming and not merely floating, but she’s working against a strong current. The character comes off as whiny, and – dare I say it – entitled. There isn’t much drama, or even story here. It’s not even that titillating despite Leigh’s insistence on statutory-raping her way to grow-up-dom. I love Kristen Bell but I can’t really be an apologist for this film. I barely muddled my way through it. The end, which is supposed to justify the means, feels jarring and forced. The whole thing tries too hard to be edgy and hip and not hard enough to be a solid, sensical story. And I refuse to watch movies in a world where that’s too much to ask.