Post Grad is about a recent college grad named Ryden Malby (played by Gilmore Girls star Alexis Bledel) who’s always known exactly what she wants to do with her life – work for a prestigious Los Angeles publishing house and discover the next Great American Novel – and how to get there.
On graduation day, she revisits her progress in a cool Web 2.0-style presentation for her MySpace friends (do people still use MySpace for things other than music?) – get good grades in high school, get a “fatty” scholarship, keep up the scholarship, graduate with a degree, get a job, etc.
However, like so many of her real-life peers who have come out of arts and sciences programs, Ryden faces a harsh reality where she’s not hired for her Dream Job five minutes out of school. Dozens of people also interview for the Dream Job, and she flubs all the subsequent interviews for other jobs.
Unfortunately, at times the film itself is also like some recent graduates: it has no idea what it wants to be or how it will get there, so it stumbles aimlessly from one thing to the next.
The good news is the first half an hour of Post Grad will resonate with everyone who has recently come out of school feeling absolutely terrified and a bit worthless for not having landed their Dream Job by graduation day.
For me in particular, the scene where she moves back to her parents’ house – her dad (played by Michael Keaton) is ecstatic to have her home while she pouts in the passenger’s seat – felt like a flashback to four months ago when I made my own journey back to the nest.
Shortly thereafter, the job interview montage is a lesson in what not to do when interviewing for entry-level jobs. Ryden practices her sales pitch in the mirror and then delivers it line-for-line to potential employers: “I’m driven, full of ideas, upbeat and, most importantly, I’m incredibly enthusiastic about the work your company’s doing.”
Well, that’s great, Ryden, but so is every other person who applied for the job. The truth is, other than having a degree and shelves of classic books, she doesn’t seem to have the qualifications for any job, let alone one at a top publishing house. Don’t let yourself be a Ryden, people.
The bad news is that by the time she’s finally hired, so many unrelated things have come up in the plot, such as her quirky family’s hijinks and a cute-but-boring love triangle involving her childhood best friend (Zach Gilford) and her 30-something Brazilian neighbour (Rodrigo Santoro), that the audience has forgotten she was looking for a meaningful job in the first place. The job just ends up being a tool to create a cheesy Hollywood ending anyway (one that anyone with any feminist sensibilities will be offended by).
For most of us, a generation that’s grown up with a little less Brady Bunch and a little more American Pie, a movie with an all-white cast that focuses on a perfect upper-middle class family whose biggest worries are boxcar races and that their 22-year-old daughter might have sex, Post Grad comes across, quite frankly, a little boring.
But ultimately, it’s a cute, quirky film with a cast full of typically strong actors, such as Keaton, Jane Lynch and Carol Burnett, that will make you smile at some parts and think, “I’ve been there!” or, unfortuately, “I’m there now!”
Your best bet is to check it out with your best friends from college or university, or maybe your parents to show them you’re not the only unemployed grad in the world who’s still trying to find themselves.