Post Grad (PG-13)
Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown
People have names like Ryden Malby only in the movies. And we're expected to like people like Ryden Malby (Alexis Bledel) only in the movies. We keep hearing people insist all through Post Grad that Ryden is "amazing," despite the movie offering us no evidence to support this contention. But never mind: You will love her, or be considered a curmudgeon.
Fine. I'm a curmudgeon, then.
Here's Ryden's deal: She graduated from college five minutes ago, and she's already bitching — in a way that's supposed to be adorable, all tousled hair and puppy-dog eyes — about how her life isn't awesome like she thought it would be. How dare the universe ignore her plans for the best life ever? Now, it's not that most 20-somethings don't have a sense of dreamy entitlement; it's that Post Grad doesn't see it as an unreasonable sense of dreamy entitlement. I mean, look how cute Ryden is! Doesn't she deserve it all?
The tediously unintrospective script by first-timer Kelly Fremon — based upon her own post-college woes — doesn't dare suggest that the adult thing to do is to take charge of one's life, even if that means making new plans. Nope: The cute thing to do is to let life buffet you along, and to sigh adorably.
See, Ryden wanted to work in publishing in Los Angeles — "Books are all I know and everything I love" — and so when her dream job at a publishing house falls through, does she regroup by hounding all the other publishing houses in L.A. for a job, any job, just to prove herself and work her way up? Not at all.
Does she follow her best friend Adam (Zach Gilford) to New York, where he's planning to attend Columbia Law School and where, rumor has it, publishing work is also to be found? Never! Instead, she mopes and moans and searches the newspaper help-wanted ads — that's right: the newspaper ads, not monster.com or mediabistro.com — and ends up working a crappy mall job selling luggage with her dad (Michael Keaton). Oh, until she ends up working a crappy gig with her neighbor (Rodrigo Santoro), a director of infomercials and a mega-hottie who threatens the status quo with Adam.
Oh, yeah, and there's that. Adam gets to be forlorn, too, in a way that's supposed to be adorable — just like Ryden! He's been in love with Ryden since forever, but she's made it clear that she's Not Interested. So does he, like a grown-up, move on? No, indeed. Like an idiot, he's all sweet concern when Ryden needs a shoulder to cry on, and then gets huffy and hurt when Ryden takes up with the hottie neighbor. (Dude, she told you she Wasn't Interested!)
But — spoiler! — Adam knows that if he just hangs in there, Ryden will see the error of her ways. If we can be assured, from the moment we meet these two delusional, selfish morons that they're going to end up together, why couldn't the film just cut to the chase and have her follow him to New York from the beginning? We'd have been spared the tedious combination of schmaltz and goofiness that director Vicky Jenson desperately tries to juggle, and the spectacle of Carol Burnett as Ryden's wacky grandma.
None of it is cute, or fun, or smart, or wise. It's just dumb. If this is indicative of how college now leaves you at the far end, we're in big trouble.