Everyone knows times are tough for new college graduates entering the workforce, but if “Post Grad” is any indication it’s not just the economy that’s making it hard to find a job. Apparently we must also take into account that today’s college graduates are shallow imbeciles who make nothing but impulsive, ill-conceived decisions.
Maybe it’s not fair to single out the young people, though — everyone in “Post Grad” is an idiot. This is problematic because the movie, directed by Vicky Jenson (an animator making her live-action feature debut) and written by newcomer Kelly Fremon, does not realize the characters are idiots. It is not “a movie about idiots who do idiotic things.” It is supposed to be “a movie about normal people who strive to overcome life’s little obstacles.” The fact that most of their obstacles are their own fault has escaped the movie’s notice.
The college grad is Ryden Malby (Alexis Bledel), who now has a degree in English and hopes that, despite the limitation in being named “Ryden,” she can secure a job as a book editor. In fact, she has scheduled an interview at a Los Angeles publishing house, and she’s so sure she’ll get the job that she writes a $3,500 check on a new apartment before the interview even happens.
This capricious behavior (which the movie does not view as capricious) runs in her family. When the job falls through and she must move back into her parents’ house, we discover that her father, Walter (Michael Keaton), is a boob who thinks he can fix anything, can’t remember the basics of automobile operation (he accidentally drives in reverse all the way down the driveway, across the street, and into a garbage can), and believes he can make a fortune by selling novelty belt buckles. Ryden’s mother, Carmella (Jane Lynch), coddles her little brother, Hunter (Bobby Coleman), who licks things and clings to Mom’s leg. The grandma, played by Carol Burnett in one of the saddest wastes of talent I’ve seen all year, is obsessed with death. The kids accidentally knock over a display coffin at a mortuary and the Malbys must pay for it. It sits on their lawn after that.
At the beginning, you thought this movie was going to be about Ryden’s search for a job, but no, that was never the point. The movie is really about this weird family, where everyone is weird for no real reason, and not in a way that’s funny or interesting. When Ryden finally gets a job opportunity, she throws it away for — you guessed it — impulsive, petulant reasons. This is after she’s given a demeaning job at a mall store and storms out in a huff rather than deal with her college rival (Catherine Reitman) as a customer.
Ryden is only 22, but her 34-year-old Brazilian neighbor, David (Rodrigo Santoro), is reckless and spoiled, too. He directs infomercials for a living, yet walks off the set in a Ryden-style huff because of a client who is slightly demanding and uninformed. Ryden and David clearly belong together. They should get married on a whim, have unplanned children, and raise them carelessly as they flit from one job to another like the spoiled, over-entitled brats they are.
The one sensible character in the movie is Adam (Zach Gilford), Ryden’s platonic best friend since freshman year. Adam has romantic feelings for Ryden but has tamped them down in favor of friendship; the unfocused, ADD-rattled movie only vaguely suggests this is an issue for him until the end, when suddenly it is very important. When Ryden stupidly forgets to attend Adam’s performance at a local club (he’s a musician) — and, rather implausibly, doesn’t look at her phone for about eight hours, either — she comes home to find Adam sitting on her doorstep, looking forlorn. As soon as she arrives, Adam says he doesn’t want to talk about it and leaves, apparently having sat there for goodness knows how long just so he could say that. So maybe he’s not the sensible one after all.
What is meant as a warm, congenial look at young people and their families (at least I think that’s what it’s meant as) is instead a bizarrely undisciplined comedy in which characters’ motivations and actions are unaccounted for and the comedic scenarios lifeless. If “Post Grad” were a job applicant, it would not be hired. In all likelihood, it would have gotten lost between the elevator and the office, then sat on the floor and dribbled until someone called security.
D (1 hr., 29 min.; )