Monday, January 11, 2010

"Post Grad" wobbly but friendly

Post Grad (2009) 
88 min., rated PG-13.
Grade: C +

Animator Vicky Jenson makes her live-action debut with "Post Grad," an awkwardly directed but modestly friendly and conservative dramedy ostensibly about a driven, bookish college grad having trouble with job hunting and temporarily moving back in with her zany sitcom family. 

With her coyote-blue eyes and adorable ingenuousness, Alexis Bledel plays 22-year-old Ryden Malby, who earns her degree in English and hopes to nab a position at a high-end publishing company. Wacky dad Michael Keaton wants Ryden to be a suitcase salesman at his store and gets in a pickle with the cops for stealing belt buckles. Carol Burnett (she's still alive?) is Grandma Maureen, who's obsessed with finding herself an $18,000 casket. Zach Gilford is one of the more normal characters as Adam, Ryden's platonic best friend since freshmen year; he's basically Ryden's Duckie and she's his Andie. Ryden doesn't share more than bff feelings with Adam, but she does engage in a school-girl fling with a thirtysomething Brazilian lover (Rodrigo Santoro), until she remembers Adam's taste for Eskimo Pies. 

The actors do their best and make the most of what they're given, especially Burnett and the lovable, always-dependable Jane Lynch as The Wacky Mother who both score some zingers. Kelly Fremon's clich├ęd screenplay goes off in a hundred different directions, ending up with a confused focus. Not only that, but the nice moments that are there are jumbled with heavy-handed, off-kilter sketches right out of a bad sitcom—the neighbor's cat is run over and then buried in a pizza box, Maureen keeps a rotating cabinet of her medication in the kitchen and takes her oxygen tank wherever she goes. And what's with the pointless and inexplicable shots of lawn gnomes? Did we miss something? "Post Grad" doesn't flunk, but—wait for it—it's only passing.

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