August 30, 2009

Post Grad

postgrad1_largeThe most important thing that you need to know about Post Grad is that it really does not need to be. It is a trifle of a movie that does not add much of anything to the big picture of the cinema at large. So, the question comes up: why was this movie made? That is a question I cannot answer. Perhaps it was the alignment of the stars, or the creative team had an idea they wanted to try out, or maybe it was seen as a way to reintroduce Alexis Bledel to the world at large and test her potential as a leading lady. That said, I feel fairly certain that most of you already knew that, or just did not care about why it was made or even that it was in theaters, a thought backed up by the film's failure to crack the top ten at the box office in its opening weekend. I guess no one else really cares either.

Still, being in possession of the knowledge that I needn't see this film, I went anyway. Why? Another question I cannot answer. There are some movies I feel safe in not going to, some I actively want to avoid, and others I feel the need to go to even knowing that I will not be seeing anything that I really need to see. Off I went, with my overpriced popcorn and soda, down the long hallway, and into the dimmed auditorium. I sat there, dealing with the pre-movie ads that I have seen a million times before. Then the movie began and I was there for the long haul.

postgrad1To my surprise, the movie opened in pretty clever fashion. It brought in the new ways the young generation have of communication with each other (yes, that makes me sound older than I am). Specifically, we are introduced to Ryden (Alexis Bledel) via video blog that announces her graduation and recaps her plan to get through school and land the job of her dream. Of course, this broadcast is interrupted by an instant message from a close friend. All things considered, this turned out to be an effective open, it draws you in to a character who is (in)directly speaking to you and the rest of the audience. With that, we can allow the movie to begin in earnest.

Ryden does indeed graduate, but as she interviews for her dream job, the dream may be turning into a nightmare. Needless to say, she doesn't get the job and ends up moving back home where she has to deal with her family, her best friend who is actually in love with her, Adam (Zach Gilford of Friday Night Lights fame), and her own desires to get ahead.

We get to watch as Ryden tries to find a job, and fail time and time again. We get to watch as she blows off spending time with Adam in favor of the attractive Argentinian neighbor (Rodrigo Santoro) who seeks to sweep her off her feet in between directing infomercials. We even get to watch as she becomes so self-absorbed that we (I?) begin to not care at all about her success as she alienates everyone she cares about.

postgrad2I could go on, but why bother? This is not a boundary stretching movie. This is a movie where we are supposed to be suckered in by the happy ending. You have to know that the job will come and she will recognize that she loves the fawning boy in front of her and all be fine in the end. This movie seems to set itself up to show how our plans never go as we plan and we must come to terms with that and continue to move forward if we are to attain our dreams. The problem is that by the time we get to the climax the tale has strayed into the realm of fantasy and any good faith it had built up in its somewhat realistic portrayal was washed away in a matter of moments.

Oh well, it was never going to be a great movie, but it had a shot at being passable. If only they kept away from the blatant fairy tale world of the end and showed a little bit of courage upon conclusion. Well, that and if I actually cared about Ryden or Adam. Both characters are just so bland and lacking in any real charisma or presence. They both just seemed to be walking through the motions. I did not care if anything worked out for them, not that there was any real drama.

postgrad3It turns out that the reason to see this does not lie with the lead or with the story, both of those elements are quite forgettable. The real reason to see this is the supporting cast. In addition to Rodrigo Santoro, who does a fine job, there are also bit parts by Fred Armisen and Craig Robinson that are pretty darn funny. However, the cast to pay attention to are Michael Keaton and Jane Lynch as Ryden's parents, and Carol Burnett as her grandmother. That's right, Carol Burnett is in Post Grad, I cannot remember the last time I saw her.

Michael Keaton is fantastic as Walter. It makes me remember just how good he can be and how good it would be to see him star, really star, in a movie (something other than White Noise, thank you). He is funny and brings some real gravitas to his scenes. Jane Lynch has been hilarious in just about everything she's been in recently. Then there is Carol Burnett, she is pitch perfect and delivers some of the best lines of the movie. She has not lost a step and has perfect timing.

Still, when it comes right down to it, this is a trifle of a movie that fails to really deliver anything substantial. I think Alexis Bledel is a good young actress, she just needs the right project. The same can be said for Zach Gilford. This movie has some good ideas, but the core is just too dull. Better luck next time.

Very Mildly Recommended.


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