Posted on 19 August 2009.
The opening scene of Post Grad gives us a unique spin on an intro to a film, Ryden Malby (Alexis Bledel of TV’s “Gilmore Girls” and Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City) is handling her social media mess with a video blog post that explains it is her graduation day from University and she is ready to embrace the next phase of her life. The screen is filled with email pop-ups with Ryden conducting the video, responding to messages, and it is actually pretty cleverly put together. Too bad the rest of the film doesn’t live up to that level of creativity…at all.
The film descends into cliché at nearly every turn, wasting a nice performance from a long missed Michael Keaton (in Mr. Mom mode here) and squandering any opportunity it had at continuing the creative momentum with which the film was briefly moving. Zach Gilford (TV’s “Friday Night Lights”) plays Ryden’s best friend, a singer/law student who has long had a crush on her, and the movie attempts to balance Ryden’s career ambitions with her love life the rest of the way.
David sees an opportunity with Ryden and takes his shot.
We see Ryden move back in with her parents after trying to land a loft apartment, she struggles with finding work and deciding what is most important to her. She will be taught life lessons along the way. I mentioned cliché right? What seemed like it might be a more ambitious piece of work, touching on adult themes of how challenging it can be to land a job, apropos in these difficult economic times, and how one needs to make risky choices on their own in order to stretch themselves, something Keaton as Ryden’s Dad encourages, there is no raising the bar. Instead we get a rather pointless and completely trivial boxcar race that is meant to be Ryden’s final awakening, showing her there is more to life than the pursuit of her dreams.
Jane Lynch (Role Models) J.K. Simmons (Juno) and Carol Burnett as Ryden’s grandmother, effectively interject whatever level of humor they can into their roles. The best line in the film comes from neighbor and love interest David (Rodrigo Santoro), when he advises Ryden that, “only half of life’s importance is the act of doing something, the other half, the more important half, is who you do that something with.” He meant that her career isn’t everything – to nobody’s surprise – she got the message.
Ryden attempts to land her dream job.
Vicky Jenson, who has worked extensively in the animation field, with co-directing credits for both Shrek and Shark Tale, didn’t take advantage of those experiences for this live-action pic. Apart from the aforementioned opening sequence, she doesn’t give us much of interest to look at, particularly struggling with her one “action” scene during the boxcar race. She tried to rely on humor and the leads to carry the day. But the script and lack of chemistry from the romantic leads failed her. Similar to this year’s The Great Buck Howard, this glaring problem really hurts its prospects at being at least a decent movie. Hopefully Jenson can learn from this misstep should she try her hand with real actors again.
My leg bounced impatiently often during the film, not a good sign. It is completely standard fare with nary a hint of originality. It’s almost surprising that the same studio (Fox Searchlight) made (500) Days of Summer and this movie. It’s too bad for Bledel, who is cute enough and actually holds the screen, but ultimately comes across as awkward in a few scenes due to stilted dialogue and a touch requiring more than she was able to overcome alone. The movie is about taking chances in your post-graduate life, a lesson that might be easier said than done for many, but the package that the message is delivered in, is one that I would just assume have left in school so it can learn to become something more unique. Post Grad needs a Doctorate in filmmaking before it can become what it intended to.