Life after college, with little to offer but some laughs
In “Post Grad,’’ Ryden Malby has a plan: Graduate from college armed with a gilded resume, cruise into a top publishing firm, and snag an airy apartment overlooking downtown LA. Naturally, the floundering job market intervenes to torpedo her dreams. “The world is a screwy place,’’ Ryden’s father says. “It doesn’t play by the rules.’’ In the end, neither does “Post Grad,’’ a disjointed patchwork of zany character sketches lacking in coherence and credibility.
When plucky overachiever Ryden (Alexis Bledel) can’t find a job, she moves back into her suburban childhood home with her eccentric family. The Malby patriarch (Michael Keaton) has a penchant for madcap business ventures. Ryden’s mother (Jane Lynch) does damage control in her husband’s wake. Younger brother Hunter (Bobby Coleman) is a weird little imp who communicates via sock puppet. Carol Burnett, wry and dour-faced as ever, shines as the chain-smoking grandmother.
Before long, the plot spirals into mayhem. A swarthy Brazilian neighbor (Rodrigo Santoro) swoops in to seduce Ryden as platonic best friend Adam (Zach Gilford) languishes on the sidelines. There’s a funeral for a dead cat. Cut to an infomercial with a man dressed as an avocado. Then a derby race. The disorienting jumble of story lines begs the question: Isn’t this a movie about college grads? What happened to the opening shots of mortarboards perched atop earnest faces, the ruminations about uncertain futures?
The script finally lurches to a conclusion that is too starry-eyed to be credible or satisfying, particularly for a film pitched as a hard-nosed look at post-college life in an economic climate that provides no neat denouements or easy answers. True love dissolves Ryden’s career concerns. The movie resorts to clunky truisms - “What you do with your life is really just one half of the equation; the other half is who you’re with when you’re doing it’’ - in order to yank the scattered plot toward its dubious resolution.
“Post Grad’’ is more portraiture than parable: a snapshot of a wacky family with little broader resonance. It’s often an entertaining snapshot, due to comic dynamos like Burnett, Keaton, and Lynch. But there is no bracing wisdom here for those newly sprung from the collegiate bubble and adrift in self-doubt. “Stay out of the workforce as long as possible,’’ a friend tells Ryden and Adam. That’s as much honest insight as we get.
Laura Bennett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.