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Alexis Bledel’s dream unravels, while Zach Gilford is love-struck in Post Grad.

Photo Credit: Suzanne Tenner

1 out of 4 stars


Post Grad

  • Directed by Vicky Jenson
  • Starring Alexis Bledel, Zach Gilford, Rodrigo Santoro, Carol Burnett, Michael Keaton
  • Classification: PG

May you live in interesting times, ancient Chinese philosophers once decreed. And anyone who rolls out of university these days with a diploma in one hand and help-wanted ads in the other knows all too well that the phrase is actually, and was always meant to be, a curse.

In an age when a masters degree may not even qualify you to fill tacos, these times are interesting indeed. Which makes Post Grad , the live-action directorial debut of Vicky Jenson (whose previous directorial credits have been the animated features Shrek and Shark Tale ) timely, if nothing else. It will probably succeed financially just on the basis of all those kids who find themselves in the same predicament as the film's heroine, Ryden Malby (Alexis Bledel -Rory from Gilmore Girls ).

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Ryden figured she had it all worked out. She would ace high school, score the big scholarship, manhandle university, and be all ready for her big reward at the end - a job in the publishing industry, at Happerman & Browning, to "discover the next great American novel." Then she could start dealing with all of life's other necessities, like the nice downtown apartment and stylish wardrobe. But the dream unravels when she loses out on her dream job to her college nemesis, Jessica Bard (Catherine Reitman). So instead of the apartment, it's back home to deal with the typical screwy movie family, a newly minted Griswold crew consisting of a cynical Mom (Jane Lynch, channelling Malcolm in the Middle 's Jane Kaczmarek), a screwy Dad (Michael Keaton), weird little brother (Bobby Coleman) and a space cadet live-in Granny (Carol Burnett).

With Keaton shamelessly hamming it up, the whole thing threatens to devolve into a kind of shaggy dad story. But it doesn't. What it eventually becomes is not so much a treatise on the inequities of the workplace as another romantic comedy, light on the comedy and not much heavier on the romance. In other words, a promising premise simply devolves into just another Definitely, Maybe or The Proposal .

Ryden is loved by her folk-singing college friend Adam, a Jason Mraz wannabe right down to the pork pie hat, (mawkishly played by Zach Gilford, from Friday Night Lights . ) Adam follows Ryden around like a lovesick puppy, and so it's no surprise that she eventually finds herself tempted by the older (34 to her 22), handsome, Brazilian neighbour David (Rodrigo Santoro). Sparks fly, kind of, and then the story quickly mutates into a rather predictable love triangle. Wimpy boy chases girl. Girl chases exotic neighbour. Wimpy boy freaks … you can guess the rest.

In the meantime, screenwriter Kelly Fremon muddies the mix even more by tossing in a few sub-plots involving an underused Burnett, a silly scrape with the law involving Dad Walter Malby (Keaton), and suddenly and inexplicably a last-gasp scenario revolving around younger brother Hunter. It all gets kind of head-spinning after a while, and will have audiences wondering what happened to the post grad in Post Grad ?

If there is a plus to the whole affair, it probably rests in the big-screen star turn debut of Alexis Bledel, which, though it is unlikely to have anyone dragging out Meryl Streep comparisons, at least suggests a career as a kind of new wave Sandra Bullock. And like Bullock's films, Post Grad does at least fill a couple of hours in a vaguely amusing way, though it probably won't generate much post-viewing debate or discussion on the ride home.

Special To The Globe and Mail

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