Post Grad

25 08 2009

Director: Vicky Jenson

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

Released: Aug. 21, 2009

Vicky Jenson’s Post Grad, a story following Ryden Malby (Bledel) as she graduates from college and is forced to move back to her childhood home when she can’t find a job, held a lot of promise in a time with a statistic like only 20% of 2009 graduates had a job upon graduation.

Unfortunately, the plot, acting and overall feeling of the movie let down those 80% of graduates who found themselves in the same place as Ryden in May.

Bledel never fully embraces Ryden, or maybe its the fact that Ryden seems so much like the girl Bledel is known for playing – Rory Gilmore. Whatever the case may be, Ryden lacks spark and spunk, instead coming off as an impulsive, ill-informed, ill-prepared job seeker that makes it seem natural that she isn’t getting a job. She sinks her first interview with her dream job at a prestigious publishing house, bombs another by asking the “VP if she was pregnant” (how many entry-level job seekers interview directly with a VP?) but she was just fat, quits part-time job working in her father’s luggage shop after one day because a rival classmate irks her by talking up her job (which just happens to be Ryden’s dream job) and runs from another part-time position because her hot Brazilian neighbor who hired her decided that her first day was a great day for him to quit his life of directing infomercials and she needed to come to the beach with him. Ryden seems like Rory-light. She has the same insecurities as Rory, without the zingy one-liners and the ability to play off Lauren Graham’s comedic timing.

The job search that seemed so central to the film’s marketing is really portrayed as a means to an end. The writer needed some reason to make this 22 year old move back home to deal with her family, neighbor and best friend so what better way than to include a four minute montage of  Ryden going to job interviews and looking stressed. That’s the perfect way to deliver any and all backstory.

Ryden’s family would have been better promotional material. Keaton and Lynch deliver wonderful performances as Ryden’s parents with what little screen time they are given. Keaton is very convincing as a Dad with a penchant for impulsive career changes (maybe that’s where Ryden gets it) as he manages the luggage shop but decides to peddle tacky belt buckles on the side. Lynch, as in many of her other roles, plays a woman who seems to find it normal that her family is a little on the strange side. Her straight-faced delivery of seemingly mundane lines gives a good chuckle, but she isn’t given enough material to truly shine.

Burnett and Coleman are also underutilized. Burnett’s character – the grandmother – never seems to really connect with the family. She’s less of a relative and more of the strange neighbor who always seems to show up and never leave. She’s offered a couple of witty lines, but she could have been cut from the plot entirely without leaving anything to be desired. Coleman is much of the same as the little brother. There are a few references to the fact that he licks things – most notably his classmates heads (but, wait, this is the summer, why is his mother getting calls from his teacher) – and is weird, but neither is fleshed out enough to make any sense. Instead, the viewer is left wondering if this kid has some undiagnosed mental problems. The only time he’s given to shine is during a superfluous boxcar derby race – which adds nothing to the main story except give the family a time to interact with each other, which they do rather poorly with the script they are given.

Really, though, the entire movie could have been about this kooky family getting ready for the boxcar derby. It would have been a feel good movie and Ryden could have been shuttered away as the older sister just passing through.

Another underutilized character, Zach Gilford’s Adam, could also be the focus of a decent movie. Adam has been best friends with Ryden for years. He also comes from a dysfunctional family, though his deals more with an absentee father and less with a head-licking little brother, and is also in the transition between college and life. Gilford, best known for playing quarterback Matt Saracen in Friday Night Lights, does wonderfully in this role as it is an extension of Saracen without the football. He is innocent enough to be believable as the boy who sticks around for years even though Ryden is uninterested in anything more than friendship, and Gilford slips into these types of roles seamlessly. The major drama in his personal life – the decision to go to law school or pursue a music career – could have easily filled the entire movie, but we are instead subjected to him referencing his displeasure with their completely platonic relationship while giving Ryden a foot rub, and getting angsty when Ryden forgets to show up to one of his gigs.

Eventually, like any good formula movie, Ryden does land her dream job. In about four weeks – because, yeah. That’s believable. After spending about another week at the job she realizes that she feels more for Adam than she previously thought, probably because he moved across the country. And, in the biggest lapse of judgment ever, decides to quit her job to move to New York to be with him.

Wait, didn’t she have to move home because she didn’t have an income? How is she going to live in New York?

But she got the guy. And that’s all that matters in this day and age, apparently.

The movie wasn’t as unbearable (albeit it was very choppy and didn’t seem to tie anything together) until they set up the idea that Ryden could chose the guy or her job. There was no in between. No talk of a long-distance relationship.  Just the impulsive move to New York to be with him. I, for one, thought we were past those rules governing women, but apparently not in Ryden’s world.

Well, ladies and gentlemen I have to say, I didn’t think it would come this soon. But, we have just achieved our first rating of: Really Crappy.

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