August 21, 2009 in Features

Review: ‘Post Grad’ aims low in plot department

Christy Lemire Associated Press
 
Fox Searchlight photo

Rodrigo Santoro, left, and Alexis Bledel star in “Post Grad.” Fox Searchlight
(Full-size photo)

“Post Grad,” a comedy about a driven, hardworking college student who’s unable to find a job after she graduates, actually might have been relevant. It might have been a satirical and insightful look into how our soured economy has dashed the dreams of a generation.

Instead, it’s a flat and tonally jumbled amalgamation of “Adventureland,” “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Some Kind of Wonderful.” In other words, it has no idea what it wants to be; as a result, it gets nothing right.

Alexis Bledel maintains a steady level of wide-eyed pluckiness as Ryden Malby, who just got out of school with an English degree and dreams of working at a prestigious Los Angeles publishing house.

When she doesn’t get the job, she ends up back home in the San Fernando Valley with the kind of eccentric family you only find in the movies.

Michael Keaton, as her dad, sells novelty belt buckles; Carol Burnett, as grandma, is obsessed with her own death. Then there’s Ryden’s little brother (Bobby Coleman), who likes to lick his classmates’ heads and communicates through his sock puppet.

Meanwhile, Ryden rebuffs the romantic advances of her best friend, the spineless and worshipful Adam (Zach Gilford), and enjoys a fling with her sexy Brazilian neighbor (Rodrigo Santoro).

Animation veteran Vicky Jenson (“Shrek,” “Shark Tale”), directing her first live-action feature, awkwardly juggles all these subplots. There’s a sitcommy quality to the way certain scenes end abruptly on a wacky or raunchy note, or sometimes with a feel-good moment of supposed poignancy.

If there is one funny scene in the entire movie, it’s the one in which a funeral home director tries to sell Burnett’s character an $18,000 casket.

Then again, “Post Grad” was already dead on arrival.

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