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Video: ‘Post Grad’: Aug. 21

By Film critic
msnbc.com contributor
updated 8/19/2009 5:52:18 PM ET 2009-08-19T21:52:18

How can women stand to go to the movies at all, when so much of the product ostensibly aimed at them contain such misogynist messages? A vast majority of what are known as “chick flicks” seem divided into three categories: Girl, You Need a Makeover If You Want a Man; Girl, You Need to Completely Humiliate Yourself If You Want a Man; and Girl, You Better Forget About Pursuing a Career If You Want a Man.

In the third group falls “Post Grad,” a dreadful comedy that takes a relevant subject — the difficulty of recent college grads to find work in the current economy — and turns it into a blisteringly stupid story about unbelievable characters doing ludicrous things for no apparent reason.

Alexis Bledel stars as Ryden, who dreams of getting her ideal job in the publishing world just as soon as she collects her diploma. From the first few minutes, we’re already straining credulity: Do today’s college students still dream about working in the print media? And since when does Los Angeles still have a presence in the world of book publishing? “Post Grad” will be getting much further away from reality before it’s over, so let’s not get bogged down in its initial concept.

Despite the support of Adam (Zach Gilford), the Mr. Right who adores Ryden even though she thinks of him only in a platonic way, employment of any kind winds up being hard to come by, so Ryden is forced to move back in with her family. Despite the presence of comic giants like Michael Keaton and Jane Lynch as Ryden’s parents, this “wacky” family never manages to be particularly funny. (Only Carol Burnett, as a grandmother who keeps her supply of pills in a spinning deli case in the kitchen, rises above the material; she can spin the line “I’m dying” into comedy gold.)

Ryden has a brief flirtation with the infomercials director (Rodrigo Santoro) who lives across the street, but this character is so sketchily presented that poor Santoro might as well wear a big sign that says “PLOT CONTRIVANCE.” It’s all about making Ryden realize that Adam is really the guy for her — even though he accuses of her being “obsessed” with getting a job, as though this were the sort of thing a recent college grad should take lightly. Especially a college grad who is living with a badly scripted family and desperately wants an apartment of her own.

I hate to think that “Post Grad” is going to be considered a test of whether or not Alexis Bledel has a career post–“Gilmore Girls” and “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”; the greatest actress in the history of drama couldn’t make first-timer Kelly Fremon’s sow’s ear of a screenplay into a sow’s ear sandwich, much less a silk purse. One can only wonder the favors that producer Ivan Reitman called in to get the likes of Burnett, Keaton and Lynch (plus, briefly, Fred Armisen, Craig Robinson and Demetri Martin) into Vicky Jenson’s live-action directorial debut, but having to put a movie this awful on your IMDB page should clear any and all debts.

As for Gilford, this is the second film I’ve seen him in — he co-stars in “Dare,” which premiered at Sundance and will open theatrically later this year — and while he has potential, he needs to mix up his bag of tricks a bit. Whenever he has to express unease, displeasure, shyness or stifled passion, he shifts his eyes sideways. It wears thin quickly.

“Post Grad,” in short, makes an idiot out its supposedly intelligent heroine, wastes a cast of talented actors and does no favors for any unwary souls who make the mistake of buying a ticket. It’s the kind of summer movie that makes going back to school seem not so bad by comparison.

Follow msnbc.com Movie Critic Alonso Duralde at http://www.twitter.com/MSNBCalonso.

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