August 27, 2009


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Post Grad (PG-13)
The Gilmore girl graduates college and finds out that whine-whine life is hard in Post Grad, an angering hateable discount version of The Graduate.

Actually, it’s probably more like a cheap hateable version of Reality Bites, that Doc Martens-wearing Gen-X riff on The Graduate that replaced “Mrs. Robinson” with “My Sharona” but frankly doesn’t look that bad when you compare it with this.

Cute-as-a-bug Ryden Malby (Alexis Bledel) graduates college and excitedly fills out an application for a ridiculous apartment (nobody deserves windows like that their first year out of college), putting down under “Employer” the publishing firm she’s absolutely certain she’s going to work for. Why is she so certain? Because she really wants it. Shockingly — shockingly! — she doesn’t get the job or the apartment and winds up back home with her parents trying to find some kind of employment and some kind of meaning in her life. Lucky for her she has a best buddy pal friend in Adam (Zach Gilford), her male platonic guy chum collegemate comrade. He hangs around looking at her as if he was the saddest puppy and she was the beefiest chew toy, meanwhile missing entirely the neon “I’m not going to sleep with you” sign that appears above her head whenever they are together. Even her salivating wolf-in-a-Looney-Tunes-cartoon pose when she sees David (Rodrigo Santoro), the sexy Brazilian neighbor, doesn’t clue Adam in on how attracted to him she’s not.

And thus is her summer: lust for the neighbor, chemistry-free-pal-ness with the college friend, annoyance with the parents (Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch) who don’t realize that she’s, like, totally an adult or whatever. Oh what shall she do, we wonder fretfully as the lite-singer-songwriter music plays?

If you are a young 20something stuck in your parents’ home and having a hard time finding a job, I sincerely feel for you. It’s hard to feel like you’re growing up and striking out if you’re sleeping in a room with posters of the boy band you loved in high school on the wall. It is indeed tough to think that things will be one way and to suddenly find they’re very different — as the movie Adventureland showed earlier this year to charming and funny effect. But this movie does not elicit such sympathy or a nostalgic empathy for this predicament. Instead it inspires all kinds of “kids today” aggravation, which is unfair because Alexis Bledel and her ilk are no more kids today than were Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke (about whose Reality Bites slacker Romeo I’m sure plenty of older viewers thought “snap out of it, mopey, and cut your damn hair”).

It doesn’t help that Bledel, so perfect as the nerdy little flower Rory in Gilmore Girls, is absolutely lifeless here. She comes off as petulant rather than depressed or frustrated. And she has so little chemistry with Gilford that it is painful to watch the movie push them together. (In fact the most interesting relationship in the movie is one of its most peripheral — it’s the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship between Jane Lynch, who plays Ryden’s mother, and Carol Burnett, who is wasted in her minor role as Ryden’s father’s mother who lives with the family and constantly talks about how she’s dying. Forget the 20something angst; give me a movie with these two wonderfully prickly women.)

There is nothing smart or fresh or even likeable about this tacky retread that feels like some kind of bad spandex trend that we’re being forced to relive. Looking for some modern post-grad angst? Lucky for you Adventureland just came out on DVD. D

Rated PG-13 for sexual situations and brief strong language. Directed by Vicky Jenson and written by Kelly Fremon, Post Grad is an hour and 29 minutes long and distributed in wide release by Fox Searchlight.