August 20, 2009

Post Grad

Meet-Cute on Aisle Four

Grade: D

Director: Vicky Jenson

Starring: Alexis Bledel, Zach Gilford, Rodrigo Santoro, Jane Lynch, Michael Keaton, and Carol Burnett

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes

There was a time when the credits “Co-starring Michael Keaton and Carol Burnett” would be treated as a box office asset. Today, they are more likely to be emblazoned across the jewel box housing a direct-to-DVD release.

How Post Grad avoided such relegation is a mystery, as it is ultimately destined for the $5 discount bin at Wal-Mart. Aimless and immaterial, it is a film that defies description for the simple fact that it’s impossible to figure out what the heck this would-be coming-of-age comedy is about. That director Vicky Jenson’s professional background is primarily in animation is appropriate since the denizens in this piffle are like cartoon characters living in some make-believe fantasyland.

For example, take the recent college graduate with the only-in-a-movie name, Ryden Malby (Alexis Bledel, channeling a poor mix of Emily Blunt and Ellen Page), who spends the entire film pining over her dream job at a publishing company (natch) only to quit the moment she lands it. Or Ryden’s BFF, Adam (Zach Gilford, talking as if his mouth has been pumped full of Novocain), who has worked hard through 16 years of school only to grapple over whether to even open his acceptance letter to Columbia Law School or instead live out his dream of playing guitar onstage in cruddy nightclubs.

Adam likes Ryden, who doesn’t really like him THAT way. Instead, she moves back in with her nutty family while hunting a job, waits for her Mr. Dad (Keaton) to fix her car, and makes goo-goo eyes at a Brazilian ad-man (Rodrigo Santoro) living next door until Adam gets ticked-off and moves away. Meanwhile, there is a wad of frayed plot strands, including dad’s (unresolved) brush with the law stemming from his side-business dealing stolen belt buckles. Ryden’s younger brother wants to build a soap box derby car and lick other kids’ heads, while Grandma (Burnett) wants to go coffin-shopping. And, Adam’s father (J.K. Simmons, utterly wasted) is either an absentee dad who doesn’t even bother to attend his son’s graduation or a hard-worker who puts food on the table and encourages Adam not to squander his educational opportunities.

Post Grad veers to and fro, not bothering to synthesize its already paper-thin subplots into a cohesive premise. Its main focus is the “tribulation” of a twenty-something recent college graduate with a strong family support system who finds herself temporarily without a job. In a recessionary economy, she’s what you call one of the lucky ones.

Neil Morris

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