In-Flight Entertainment: Post-Grad
By Jason Lee
December 12, 2009
BOP's newest column, "In-Flight Entertainment," brings you the movies now playing at a cruising altitude of 45,000 miles in the air. So put your tray table up, buckle your safety belt, and let's go.
Now Playing on select Westbound American Airline flights in December: Post-Grad.
Call me crazy, but I've been looking forward to seeing this film on American Airline's In-Flight Network. After sitting through the mind-numbing Aliens in the Attic and the depressing-but-touching The Time Traveler's Wife, I was ready for something a little more jovial and lighthearted. I needed the cinematic equivalent of a Starbucks granola parfait.
I didn't know much about Post-Grad – my first introduction to the film came in Reagen Sulewski's Weekend Forecast column from back in August, where he wrote: "Reviews have been shockingly unkind to this film, considering that it's largely an unassuming semi-romantic comedy aimed at teenagers and the early-20s set. Most have hammered it as a pointless and feeble comedy filled with unlikeable characters in a plot filled with contrivances."
Post-Grad follows Ryden Malby (played charmingly by Alexis Bledel from "Gilmore Girls" fame), a new found college graduate who thinks she has her life all figured out. She'll get good grades in high school (check), get into a good college (check), get more good grades in college (check) and get a job at a hotshot publishing firm after graduation...and here's where things get murky.
Despite being educated, attractive, poised and eminently likable, Ryden is not only unable to secure employment at publishing company, she's pretty much unable to find employment anywhere. As she struggles to get her life back on track, she's supported along the way by her best friend Adam (played by Zach Gilford) – Adam has loved Ryden for a number of years, though she returns his affection in a platonic way.
Ryden also has somewhat of an eccentric family. Her father works as a luggage salesman but goes into underground sales of belt buckles on the side. Her brother seems on the verge of being mentally-handicapped, and is obsessed with box-car racing. Her grandmother, played by Carol Burnett, is incessantly brash for no apparent reason. Her mother (who many will recognize as Coach Sue Sylvester in "Glee") is often the glue that keeps her family together.
These sometimes-amusing, sometimes-annoying side-characters drum up sometimes-amusing, sometimes-annoying side-character plots that often distract from the main thrust of Ryden's story instead of complimenting it. The jarring switch from Ryden's sincere search for a post-graduate life and the slap-happy humor of her family's antics brings an welcome sitcom-y feel to the movie. Halfway through, I wondered, "wouldn't this play better on ABC than in an AMC theatre?"
That said, Bledel and Gilford are extremely likable in the main roles. Their characters are young without being stupid – they can hold an intelligent conversation about a topic, even though you know that their youth and inexperience will frequently lead them down a tough path. The script would have done well to focus more on these two.
There were, however, a number of totally implausible elements to the film – ones that completely shattered my ability to immerse myself in the story. I laughed out loud when an apartment manager told Ryden that the first month's rent, last month's rent and security deposit for her new, window-filled Los Angeles loft would total $3,500. I shook my head in disbelief when Zach told Ryden that he'd received a letter from Columbia Law School but hadn't opened it for a month (as someone who just submitted applications to law school in October, believe me when I say that you will immediately open any piece of mail from any law school).
All this culminated in an ending that felt absolutely preposterous given what we know about the characters. It was emotionally satisfying, but hard to believe.
That said, Bledel and Gilford won me over. They're so good in their roles and their chemistry is so strong, that I found that I perked up every time a scene between the two of them took place. I think there was more to dislike in the film than to like, but if I'm honest, I'll admit that I enjoyed my time with Ryden and Adam. Like a couple of younger cousins, they and their family will annoy you from time to time when you spend an extended amount of time with them. But after you leave, you won't be sorry that you visited.
Rating: 3 stars (out of a possible 4 stars)