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Ah, the plan. You know the one, get good grades in high school, earn that college scholarship, continue the straight-A regimen, and land that dream job you’ve wanted since grade school. If the first three occurred without a hitch, of course that interview is a mere formality standing as a thin wall in front of the bright future ahead. Well, life is never that easy, and Post Grad’s Alexis Bledel finds that fact out very quickly. Her Ryden Malby somehow managed to not only keep a good head, but also excel in all facets of her professional life, accomplishing that trio of goals—two things hard to believe once you meet her eccentric, borderline committable family. Throw in a few off-the-wall moments of absurdity with the kooky cast of characters and you get the cute, yet ho-hum mediocrity of this journey into adulthood and deciding what it is you want after college.

Don’t think it’s only a coming of age tale for Bledel, though, you also have her male best friend that has been pining over her to no avail for a lifetime, the father that lives life to take idiotic chances on endeavors that usually would only hoodwink the elderly, and that sexy, older neighbor looking for his own answers while helping the lead with her sexual awakening—or at least he would have if this was an R-rated film. It all revolves around Ryden in the end, but I do wish to give credit to writer Kelly Fremon and director Vicky Jenson for adding a little quirky fun so as to have an escape from the clichéd central plot that I think I’ve seen about a hundred times this decade alone. Yes, I realize the decade started two months ago, that’s how tired the main plot is. And adding a weird little brother—his mother’s words, not mine—in Bobby Coleman’s Hunter may not be the most inspired idea to spice things up, but any kid who enjoys licking other children that has parents say, “we know you like the taste, but they just don’t like to be licked,” is okay in my book.

These Malbys, without question, make the film. Ryden is the sole normal member of the family, so, lucky for us, her aspirations meet with conflict. Not only does this allow a movie to be created at all, it also gives us unfettered access to the people she must move back in with. Michael Keaton is her father with some major lapses in judgment. He flies by the seat of his pants and oftentimes acts as though he is the child, manically moving at high speed, speaking without a filter of decency or compassion, and partaking in actions for which consequences seem unimportant. I do believe his wife hits the nail on the head when she tells a police officer that he isn’t a criminal, he’s just a moron. Speaking of Mrs. Malby, no one is funnier these days than the fantastic Jane Lynch. Reined in a bit here, she is only strange in that she doesn’t let the craziness faze her. I could have used more of her own brand of weird, but the glimpses did their job, especially when opposite comic legend Carol Burnett as her mother-in-law. Between the look of this crew and their actions, don’t be surprised if you begin to stop watching the movie in order to figure out how a gorgeous girl like Bledel came from their genes.

I’ll admit to not knowing much of the star’s career, never having seen “Gilmore Girls”, but it was a little strange seeing her so wholesome and innocent when my only previous encounter with Bledel was Sin City. She plays the role to perfection, totally letting me buy the fact that everyone she comes across wants to get to know her. Infinitely bubbly and a hard worker without regret, she is the kind of person you pull for and hope that the ending we all know is coming will. She even holds her own against Rodrigo Santoro, something I don’t say because he’s a great actor, but because he is ten years her senior and she brings authenticity to the romantic moments they share. Even when she obliviously hurts Zach Gilford’s Adam—my favorite part of the film—at every turn, I accept it as a construct of the overall story, secretly hoping he finally will drop her and move on with the realization she’ll never see him as more than a friend. This guy will do anything for her, though, and watching his serenade through her dressing room door in a clothing store full of attractive women is just one moment that made me smile.

The sad truth, however, is that smile is all I really did. Keaton did his best to make me audibly laugh, but just never went from being the asinine comic relief to a fully-fleshed out father who intelligently used humor to educate. Including a song by The Kooks is always a positive in my mind, as is throwing Craig Robinson a bone for even the smallest amount of screen time in the film as well as including the underappreciated Andrew Daly. I even really liked Demetri Martin’s cameo as a no-talent infomercial producer hoping to do a Matrix-esque guacamole-maker sequence. It’s these unexpected moments of humor that allow the rest of Post Grad to be as saccharine as it is, giving reason to slog through in hopes of another. And, while it may have come late, Gilford finally did achieve what seemed impossible with the final line of the film. If you’re going to make a comedy that may not be anything special, make sure to end it on a laugh.

Post Grad 5/10

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photography:
[1] L-R: Michael Keaton, Carol Burnett, Bobby Coleman, Jane Lynch, Alexis Bledel and Zach Gilford. Photo Credit: Suzanne Tenner
[2] Rodrigo Santoro and Alexis Bledel. Photo Credit: Suzanne Tenner

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