I'm quite shocked to learn that "Post Grad" wasn't based on a book or a television series. It's just an original screenplay, credited to Kelly Fremon, which makes the distracted, overstuffed narrative all the more confusing. 1/3 post-collegiate woe, 1/3 wacky family suburban comedy, and 1/3 tepid romantic yearn, "Post Grad" hopes to be many things to many different audiences. It's a meandering mess of a motion picture, enlivened by a few performances, but ultimately, and quite aggressively, ineffectual and dreary.
Ryden Malby (Alexis Bledel, "Gilmore Girls") is finishing up her college years, ready to take on the business world with a sure-thing job at a high-profile publishing firm, backed by support from her dear friend, Adam (Zach Gilford, "Friday Night Lights"). When the gig falls through, Ryden is forced to move back in with her family (including Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch, and Carol Burnett), starting a job hunt that continually proves fruitless. Falling under the spell of her Brazilian neighbor David (Rodrigo Santoro), Ryden's heart is clouded in doubt, a situation amplified when Adam prepares to leave for law school.
In 90 minutes of screen time, "Post Grad" takes on a substantial amount of emotional baggage. The picture handles exactly like a sloppy, corner-cutting novel-to-screen adaption, with filmmaker Vicky Jenson (making her live-action debut after co-directing "Shark Tale" and "Shrek") cramming in as much plot as possible to feel out a three-dimensional world for Ryden as she surfs the disappointments of life. As characters are introduced and Ryden's personality is established, "Post Grad" actually comes off as a frothy jumble of twentysomething insight, executing believable panic (buttressed by extensive Eskimo Pie plugs) as our hero faces a cold world of unemployment and domestic resignation. Jenson even gets Adam to a secure level of ache that meshes well with Ryden's self-absorption.
Once matters solidify at home and Ryden finds her nether region burning for David immediately upon introduction, "Post Grads" falls apart. Not even discreetly, it just crumbles. Part of the blame is found with Jenson, who juggles too many subplots, hoping to lend Ryden continuous motivation through her vaguely supportive family. It's one thing to have peripheral characters revolving around Ryden, but "Post Grad" goes so far as to track their own triumphs and humiliations. Will anyone really care to follow the arrest of Ryden's father for receiving stolen merchandise? To watch her kid brother compete in a soapbox derby race? It's shocking to find "Post Grad" often shoving aside the titular character to waste time elsewhere, making for a bewildering, elongated sit.
The discomfort extends to the love triangle between Ryden, Adam, and David, which is never balanced to satisfaction. Only in a Hollywood movie would an unemployed college grad be forced to choose between a Latin lover and a dreamy emo rocker with law school aspirations. Jenson doesn't recognize the absurdity of the situation, permitting the film to indulge its saccharine sides, cringingly sold by blank slate Santoro and method man Gilford, who goes all Gosling on the role in the second half, making for some choice moments of acting-class brood that further dilute the appeal of the movie.
Also of some disgust is the film's ultimate message that Ryden must choose a boyfriend over her professional dreams. There are two women steering this picture, and they lurch for a nitwit fairy tale ending that nullifies Ryden's educational and personal accomplishments? Who needs enriching, sustaining professional aspirations and when boys are around? Rory Gilmore would never stand for this.
Sustaining the cheery attitude of the film, the AVC encoded (1.85:1 aspect ratio) presentation on this BD is generally sturdy. Colors burst quite well, with Bledel's famous blue eyes often making her look like a Fremen refugee from the planet Arrakis. Facial detail is acceptable, though skintones read a little too pink at times, making most of the cast look like they're two minutes away from a heart attack. Low-light sequences result in a loss of adequate shadow detail, clouding needed information at times. Daylight and office sequences show off more pleasant BD potential.
The 5.1 DTS-HD track here is very modest, concerned more with developing a warm, inviting ambiance of comedy and romance than anything heavily underlined. The Blu-ray keeps that promise with a minimal, but effective effort. Scoring cues are restrained and deployed well, balanced well with the dialogue, keeping a welcome clarity throughout the listening event. Some atmospherics are introduced through workplace scenarios, and a car crash in the film's early going offers a lively smash to help wake up the neighborhood.
English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Thai subtitles are offered
"Deleted and Alternate Scenes" (13:41) fill in a few of the comedic gaps left in the movie, while bending the promise of the supplement's description somewhat with the inclusion of a prank played by J.K. Simmons and a sloppy music video.
"'One Day' by Jack Savoretti" (3:35) is a low-fi performance clip.
"Real Life Advice with Alexis Bledel and Zach Gilford" (4:20) sits the two stars of the film down to discuss their "hungry" years before acting changed their lives. Gilford actually shows more personality here in this brief clip than he does in the entire movie.
"Know Your Strengths: Career Advice" interviews Marcus Buckingham, author and professional know-it-all when it comes to finding a job. Here, Buckingham discusses important intellectual tools every twentysomthing should have when entering the job market.
"How Not to Get a Job" (3:29) is a countdown featurette that reprises a few of the more embarrassing moments from the picture.
"A Guide to Moving Back Home" (2:58) is a checklist comedically underlining the problems of an adult life lived alongside parents.
"Dress for Success" (2:03) talks up the costumes of the movie, exploring intended moods and character subtext.
"Find Your Match: The Best Job for You" is a personality quiz with a vocational slant, looking to present the player with a possible career to explore at the end of questioning. For the record, the quiz told me I should be a "Celebrity Publicist."
"What Not to Wear" is a second quiz, presenting good and bad fashion examples to choose from.
"'Post Grad' Confidential" (13:56) is the official BTS featurette on the BD, and it's a light but informative journey into the development of the picture. Most of the conversation is provided by screenwriter Kelly Fremon, who explores her intentions with the material and how she found the film's producers, including Ivan Reitman.
A Theatrical Trailer has not been included.
Michael Keaton is allowed an opening to do his Michael Keaton impression, offering the only laughs of the picture. I also have faith in Bledel as a leading actress. She does the best she can do with a film that barely makes time for her. "Post Grad" wastes her efforts and a juicy concept that held the ideal urgency to speak to a generation disillusioned; a pack irritated with a system that sold them a future, but failed to reinforce the workplace reality. Instead, we're served mushy romantic comedy leftovers, emerging from a plump script that should've been whittled down to a manageable size before cameras rolled.
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