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Talented cast can’t tutor ‘Post Grad’

POSTED: August 19, 2009 10:30 p.m.
/Fox Searchlight

Rodrigo Santoro, left, and Alexis Bledel star in "Post Grad," a sadly predictable movie that not even a star-studded cast can save.

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There aren’t enough quality movies made for young women, and “Post Grad” does nothing to improve the situation.

It’s hard to imagine a more predictable, lame take on the women’s movie formula.

“Post Grad” begins with Ryden Malby (Alexis Bledel) posting a vlog (that’s the video version of a blog for everyone closer to my own age group) to a chat forum on the morning of her college graduation. This two-minute vlog gives us the entire set-up for the movie.

Giving all the exposition in a vlog makes the movie seem gimmicky before the opening credits even begin, but hey, this movie is made for viewers in their early 20s, so we’ll withhold judgment.

The vlog introduces us to Ryden’s best friend Adam (Zach Gilford) and we see right away that he thinks of Ryden as more than just a friend. Adam has earned acceptance into Columbia law school, but for some reason (duh) he can’t decide whether to move away from California.

We meet her rival since grade school, Jessica Bard (Catherine Reitman). Jessica just happened to attend the same college as Ryden and just happened to barely beat out Ryden for valedictorian.

Ryden also shows us glimpses of her whacky family: dad Walter (Michael Keaton), mom Carmella (Jane Lynch), little brother Hunter (Bobby Coleman) and live-in grandma Maureen (Carol Burnett).

Ryden then tells us about her upcoming interview with the publishing firm for which she dreams of working.

Vlog ends, graduation ceremony happens, Ryden interviews with the big company, then reality begins to set in. Guess who just happens to beat out Ryden for the job?

Then, a handsome, suave neighbor (Rodrigo Santoro) moves in across from the Malby residence and befriends Ryden. Care to guess how that might affect her friendship with Adam?

In a movie all about how difficult life can be for new college graduates, can anyone not guess where this movie is headed? We have seen every plot device in this movie many times before. Half of the story, especially the love triangle subplot, is straight out of “The Devil Wears Prada.”

There isn’t a single unexpected moment. Save yourself time: watch the trailer and imagine the most clichéd conclusion to each story line introduced. That’s the movie in a nutshell.

This is the rare negative review that hurts me to write, because the cast and crew consist of people many of us like.

Bledel exudes an endearing, earnest quality that makes us cheer her on. This should be the movie that proves she can carry the lead role in a movie about grown-ups (she previously shared the spotlight in the two “Traveling Pants” movies). But “Post Grad” is hardly a breakaway role. Ryden is basically Rory Gilmore (Bledel’s character on “The Gilmore Girls”) a few years older.

The movie’s failure isn’t Bledel’s fault, though, since no one could have rescued a script so devoid of charm, comedy or drama.

Look no further than the supporting cast for proof of how bad the writing is: not even Keaton, Lynch, Burnett and J.K. Simmons could pool their talents to make this movie entertaining.

Lynch barely gets to say anything at all. Simmons is miscast in a straight role as a neglectful father. Keaton plays a wacky dad but doesn’t do anything Tim Allen didn’t do on his TV show “Home Improvement.” And it pains me to write that Burnett just seems to have very little energy or comedy chops left. Once upon a time, she would have elevated her role and likely stole the movie, but not this time.

“Post Grad” isn’t bad so much as it’s empty. It commits the cardinal sin of being just plain boring.

Ironically, “Post Grad” will probably perform moderately well at the box office, only because of its release date. It should attract audiences as counter-programming to Quentin Tarantino’s testosterone extravaganza “Inglourious Basterds.”

But anyone shelling out money for this wet noodle of a movie will leave extremely disappointed.

Jeff Marker is a media studies professor at Gainesville State College.



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