Alexis Bledel, Zach Gilford, Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch, Bobby Coleman, Carol Burnett, Rodrigo Santoro
20th Century Fox
What's a moviegoer to do?
When Pulitzer Prize winning film critic Roger Ebert praises a film such as "Post Grad" by calling it a "screwball comedy" and a "feel-good movie" that made him smile a lot, it's hard not to get excited about such a film and hope that this is one of Summer 2009's unexpected surprises. On the other hand, when virtually every other critic pans the film by calling it "bland," "uninspired" and "unimaginative," the big dilemma sets in.
Who do you believe?
Now then, I'm not about to take sides in the debate. After all, Ebert is an extraordinary critic and can write circles around this critic while the other critics easily form the majority opinion and can't so easily be dismissed.
Of course, as nearly any film writer will tell you, our job is not to tell you whether or not a film is good but to help you decide for yourself if this is the film for you.
So, there you have it. There are film critics who enjoyed "Post Grad" and those who loathed it.
In "Post Grad," Ryden Malby (Alexis Bledel, "The Gilmore Girls") finds herself in a not so uncommon situation. Having dreamed of becoming a book editor, her post graduation plans come to a screeching halt when she doesn't get the job of her dreams.
"Post Grad" is, at its most complex, about how Malby deals with this dilemma and is supported by those around her including her wildly eccentric father (Michael Keaton) and mother (Jane Lynch), her not so happily platonic best friend Adam (Zach Gilford, "Friday Night Lights") and her delightfully goofy Grandma Maureen (Carol Burnett).
For all its undeniable predictability, there's a gentle, positive vibe that radiates throughout "Post Grad" that practically guarantees it a quick run through the box-office, not unlike Greg Mottola's underrated "Adventureland." While it's impossible to not wish that director Vicky Jenson hadn't found a way to add some substance to writer Kelly Fremon's paint-by-numbers script, the cast largely rises above the mediocrity of the material and manages to make "Post Grad" a series of scenes worth watching rather than a whole film actually worth watching.
Bledel, who has largely been relegated to supporting material in her Hollywood career, shows us why here. While her performance in "Post Grad" is far from awful, it also lacks the inviting chemistry necessary to make Ryden Malby a must see character. The same is not true for Michael Keaton's portrayal of her quite unique father, a portrayal in which Keaton reminds us why he's always been one of Hollywood's most underrated actors. Keaton manages to take even the most basic scene and make it his own, most notably a scene involving pet burial that is vintage Keaton and very, very funny.
The same is true for the legendary Carol Burnett, who takes the blandly written Grandma Maureen and makes one flash back to her Carol Burnett Show days with fond memories. Then, of course, there's a nicely grounded performance from Zach Gilford and the always dependable Jane Lynch to round out the cast.
Too safe to be memorable yet too entertaining to be completely forgotten, "Post Grad" will most likely speed through theatres before finding a decent life on home video.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic