Ryden Malby (Alexis Bledel) has had her life planned out since high school. It’s simple really: Get scholarships, don’t drink too much, stay focused, finish your undergrad and find your dream job. At 22 she appears to be right on track, diploma achieved and ready to grab a great employment offer at a prestigious publishing firm in LA. But what she hasn’t counted on are the numerous others who also have shiny new English degrees and want the same kind of work.
Within weeks, things are headed in the completely opposite direction. She doesn’t get the job, her car is wrecked, and she’s living back at home in North Hollywood with her father Walter (Michael Keaton) who jumps from one get-rich-quick-scheme to the next, an attention-starved little brother (Bobby Coleman), an eccentric grandmother (Carol Burnett) and an unbelievably patient (or perhaps blithe) mother (Jane Lynch). Also vying for just a little notice of his existence is her persistent pal Adam (Zach Gilford). Pulled between studying law at Columbia or hanging out in LA playing music, he puts off choosing while he waits for Ryden to recognize him as something more than just a friend.
What this stalled group of characters needs is a catalyst to get them moving—and the script provides one in the form of a handsome Brazilian neighbor. After Ryden’s dad accidently runs over David Santiago’s (Rodrigo Santoro) cat, the young post-grad feels obligated to hang out at the thirty-something’s house for a little one-on-one career conversation. Although the infomercial director has his own struggles, he is still happy to listen to the cute girl from next door. David’s pair of listening ears plus a couple of glasses of wine soon motivate Ryden to make overt sexual advances—and that’s when her family walks in.
Needless to say the awkward moment has everyone confused and leaves Ryden even more ambivalent about her relationship with Adam. Meanwhile her father’s latest scheme lands him in jail and her brother is convinced Dad will never spend time with him.
If the title of this film left you expecting yet another college movie full of ridiculous pranks and gross-out jokes, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what Post Grad doesn’t contain. Yet on the other hand, the movie can’t decide where on the comedy/drama spectrum it fits. The laughs are few, the drama is weak and the story becomes just as lost as the stock characters it is trying to portray. Even veteran actor Carol Burnett is a bit of a disappointment here, playing the usual conniving in-law who reminds her granddaughter to pack condoms.
That line, the interrupted liaison with the neighbor (who blurts out a sexual expletive, which is followed by a remark from Grandma that puts the word into a sexual context), a couple of other innuendos and a variety of profanities give additional reasons for parents to reconsider this movie for family viewing.
On a positive note, even though we don’t get much opportunity to know Mr. and Mrs. Malby very well, they do appear as a reasonably happy couple determined to work through life’s tough spots. It’s just unfortunate that the hour-and-a-half we spend with them requires an equally determined effort from the viewer.