By John M. Urbancich
You won’t need an advanced degree in cinema to recognize that “Post Grad” mostly flunks out right from the get-go. Star Alexis Bledel opens the sophomoric hijinks with a computer video designed to emphasize her strengths and readiness to conquer the business world, as a soon-to-be graduate of a California university. Trouble is, the pretty, if timid Bledel owns neither the acting chops, nor the character chutzpah to convince anyone that her pretentiously named Ryden Malby is as bouncy and capable as she claims. Come to think of it, despite her seven-year run on TV’s “Gilmore Girls,” blue-eyed Bledel does not seem ready to headline a movie comedy, either, even one debuting in the rabid dog days of August.
Sadly, the screenplay (by first-timer Kelly Fremon) fails her, too. And a competent supporting cast, featuring the likes of original film “Batman” Michael Keaton, as Ryden’s inane inventor dad; steady Jane Lynch (her harried mom); and legendary comedienne Carol Burnett (grouchy grandma) can’t prop up Bledel with the sitcom-like story. Only Zach Gilford (TV’s “Friday Night Lights”), as best friend Adam Davies (gee, d’ya think he might become a love interest?), wins points on the amiability scale.
That said, Adam’s early conversation with Ryden on lawn chairs in the middle of a grocery story run by his philandering father (J.K. Simmons) rings more showy than real. The scene does set the stage, however, for everyone but the allegedly intelligent duo to recognize what they have together. Naturally, Ryden has to go through a brief fling with an older director neighbor (Rodrigo Santoro) – as well as some feeble, barely breathing comedy – to figure it all out.
Because she doesn’t get her dream job right after graduation – another lame surprise – Ryden moves back home and, appropriately, learns things that school doesn’t teach you. Lesson One: You can’t always get what you want, but your college nemesis (Catherine Reitman, daughter of the film’s producer, Ivan) certainly does.
Skip right to Lesson Last: Things always work out in the end, but it’s not usually a Box-Car Derby (involving Ryden’s very weird little brother) that comes out of nowhere to bring closure. Or something like that.
Stars: Alexis Bledel, Zack Gilford, Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch, Carol Burnett, Rodrigo Santoro, J.K. Simmons
Director: Vicky Jensen
Studio/Official Site: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/postgrad/
Photos by Suzanne Tanner, courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures.
[John M. Urbancich has been reviewing movies and writing film features and celebrity profiles at Cleveland’s Sun Newspapers for 25 years. As a longtime member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, his work has been appearing on the Sun News website for more than a decade.]