Post Grad Doesn't Earn High Marks in Reality
- Friday, August 21, 2009
DVD Release Date: January 12, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: August 21, 2009
Rating: PG-13 (for sexual situations and brief strong language)
Run Time: 89 min.
Director: Vicky Jenson
Actors: Alexis Bledel, Zach Gilford, Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch, Bobby Coleman, Carol Burnett, Rodrigo Santoro, Catherine Reitman, J.K. Simmons
Although largely overlooked at the box office when it debuted back in 1994, but a minor hit later on DVD, Reality Bites effectively captured the angst of four recent college graduates who weren't exactly making much headway on finding a fulfilling career.
Of course, there was the requisite love triangle between Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke and Ben Stiller's respective characters woven in, but even the quest for true love among the flannel shirt set-complete with a fantastic alterna soundtrack in the background-didn't steal the spotlight from the story's central conflict: Will these twenty-somethings ultimately succeed?
In a similar vein, Post Grad tackles the same topic, which is probably more relevant to its target audience than ever before, given today's volatile job market. But instead of giving the storyline the gravitas it deserves, the script quickly goes all Little Miss Sunshine with way too much screen time dedicated to Rylen's quirky family, the sort of motley crew only dreamed up for movies in the first place.
Case in point: Her dad (Michael Keaton), a quasi-successful owner of a luggage shop is chomping at the bit to start a belt buckle business (huh?), her little brother Hunter (Bobby Coleman) routinely gets in trouble for licking the top of his classmates' heads, and her grandma (Carol Burnett) is so obsessed with her own death that she takes the family shopping for caskets (and tries them on, so to speak, by lying in them so the family can get a feel for which would look best).
If that lack of focus wasn't already distracting enough, there's a predictable (quelle surprise) romantic subplot involving the loyal but spineless guy friend (Zach Gilford) who has really wanted Rylen (Alexis Bledel) to be his girlfriend all along and the object of her lust next door, David, (Rodrigo Santoro), a much older guy who's a gifted artist but pays the bills by working on infomericals.
For even the most talented filmmakers, that's a lot of movie to cram into an hour and a half. And with Post Grad, it's just one of the many reasons the comedy doesn't really connect. Not only are the intended laughs not very funny, but we don't know all that much about our main character Rylen. Sure, we know that she wants to put her longtime love of literature to good use at a local publishing company (in Los Angeles, no less—not exactly the first place you think of for careers in novel acquisitions) and has dazzling blue eyes that the cameramen love to zoom in on, but not much else.
Without much to work with in the ol' character development department, it certainly doesn't help matters when Rylen finds herself in one implausible scenario after the next.
First off, anyone knows you don't put a nearly $4,000 deposit down on a trendy loft apartment before you even have a job (that fact has escaped Rylen somehow). And before one can start moving beyond eating the proverbial Ramen noodles for dinner again and again, you probably won't want to quit a great entry-level opportunity in publishing because you've got your eye on a guy who happens to live in New York. Anyone who's done their due diligence with research knows that good publishing jobs don't exactly grow on trees these days, so it's hard to garner much sympathy for Rylen's plight. Heck, even Legally Blonde's Elle Woods had far more common sense than this. And she wasn't even a brunette.
If anything, the writers could've taken a cue from Reality Bites or Bledel's sitcom years on Gilmore Girls. Not only did Rory Gilmore go through many of the same scenarios that Rylen did after college graduation, but she managed to learn a little about reality in the process through genuine heartbreak and disappointment—something that's never really developed in Post Grad. Instead, you've got this whiny girl who's been without a job for like, two seconds, and you're supposed to care? Well, probably not in this economy.
- Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking.
- Language/Profanity: A smattering of profanity throughout, including instances where God's name is taken in vain and one use of the "f" word.
- Sex/Nudity: Rylen's family—yes entire family—catches her participating in a sex act with the good looking next-door neighbor. Her dad asks her later if they "used" anything.
- Violence: The cat that Rylen's dad loathes is accidentally run over by his car. There's also a rather jarring car accident that takes place on the way to Rylen's job interview.
Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in St. Paul, Minn., she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog.
For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.
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