The big elephant in the room while watching Post Grad is that the plot seems like it's totally zeitgeist-y, but it's actually not. A young woman (Alexis Bledel) can't seem to get a job despite her qualifications and languishes in unemployment. Unemployment! Super timely, right? But no, there is no mention of the current recession that's keeping a lot of the brilliantly competent out of work, which solidifies that this movie must have been made quite a while ago. Adding to my suspicion is the fact that Bledel's character Ryden does all her job hunting with a red pen and a newspaper. In 2009. In LA.
Once you're past the faux timeliness, however, the movie becomes surprisingly enjoyable. Is it Alexis Bledel channeling a less-successful Rory Gilmore? Not so much, though she is believable and irritatingly adorable. More than anything, the fun of this movie lies in the strength and comedy chops of the supporting cast. To hear what I thought of it all, just
I could have watched a whole movie about Ryden's family alone: her grandmother is played by Carol Burnett, who couldn't not be funny if she tried and her mother is Jane Lynch, who's something of a straight man (I know) to Michael Keaton. Yes, that's right, Michael Keaton is back, and his presence is an unexpected delight. Though his character gets a little too wacky at times, he charms as Ryden's goofball dad.
As the movie goes on, the comedian cameos come fast and furious; Fred Armisen, The Office's Craig Robinson, and Kirk Fox all pop up. J.K. Simmons' role is kind of a disappointment, just because he weirdly disappears after a couple of scenes as the father of Ryden's best friend. Friday Night Lights' Zach Gilford plays said best friend, obviously in unrequited love with Ryden, who inexplicably resists him. Rodrigo Santoro's presence is questionable, but not entirely unwelcome — is it quirky or contrived that his hunky, mysterious neighbor pops up to dispense a tiny bit of sage advice? Well, I don't know, I was too busy being lost in his eyes.
But, oh yeah, there is a main character in this flick, Ryden, whose problem is infuriating at times. She has a vision of her perfect future, which she expects to start with landing her perfect dream job just days after she graduates college, and when this doesn't happen immediately, she's utterly lost. What redeems her is that her entitlement is, sadly, understandable, since the college environment really does make you feel like the brightest future imaginable is at your feet once you get your diploma. A whole trend — the quarterlife crisis — was born years ago to define the disappointment of folks in their 20s not getting what they assumed they deserved. That she buys into it reminds me of my own postgraduation experiences and those of my friends.
Ryden doesn't necessarily learn that the "perfect future" is something that takes hard work and doesn't happen overnight, but she does learn that her life could be more fulfilling if she stopped whining and started dating her sweet best friend (I knew she couldn't resist a singing, songwriting Matt Saracen for long). Is that a good lesson, or even realistic? Maybe not, and in this movie, it's predictable; but you'll still cheer when Ryden does finally stop stressing out and finds some semblance of a future.
Photos courtesy of Fox Searchlight