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Movie Review

Post Grad a.k.a. “The Post Grad Survival Guide,” “Ticket to Ride”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual situations and brief strong language.

Reviewed by: Spencer Schumacher
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens, Adults
Genre:
Comedy, Drama
Length:
1 hr. 29 min.
Year of Release:
2009
USA Release:
August 21, 2009 (wide—1,900+ theaters)
DVD: January 12, 2010
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
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Featuring: Alexis Bledel, Jane Lynch, Michael Keaton, Zach Gilford, Bobby Coleman, Carol Burnett, Rodrigo Santoro, Catherine Reitman, Mary Anne McGarry, J.K. Simmons, Robert Arce, Jeanie Hackett, Oscar [Big O'] Dillon, Vanessa Branch, Shirley Jordan, Craig Robinson, Michael Grant Terry, Melissa Tang, Brandon Phillips, Parisa Fitz-Henley, Robert M. Koch, Fred Armisen, Donnie D. Stroud, Alexandra Holden, Angel Oquendo, Desean Terry, Andrew Daly, Kirk Fox, Anna Khaja, Gino Woulard, Reid Harper, Patrick O'Connor, Dempsey Pappion
Director: Vicky Jenson
Producer: Cold Spring Pictures, Fox Atomic, The Montecito Picture Company, Ali Bell, Jeffrey Clifford, Steven R. McGlothen, Joe Medjuck, Tom Pollock, Ivan Reitman
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

“A Pre-Life Crisis. Now What?”

Like many families portrayed in Hollywood comedies these days, the Malby family is anything but usual. Their unusualness is the backdrop for freshmen director Vicky Jenson’s film “Post Grad.”

The film is the story of post grad student Ryden Malby (Alexis Bledel—“Gilmore Girls”) who has graduated from college with honors and is now set to take on the real world. She has everything going for her—marvelous charm, a perky personality and a resume’ that is sure to get her through the door of a prestigious Los Angeles literary agency. However, reality smacks her in the face and she is forced to rely on the help of her family and the support of her best friend Adam (Zach Gilford—“Friday Night Lights”).

The idea of ‘what makes a family’ is one of the themes explored by this film. And we meet Ryden’s family at the outset, as she graduates from college. Her father Walter (played by Michael Keaton), her mother Carmella (played by Jane Lynch), her grandmother (Carol Burnett) and her brother Hunter are all part Ryden’s family, each with their own unique disposition and charm. As problems seem to get worse for Ryden, she struggles with finding her own independence, while her family just wants to love her unconditionally. She also struggles to find balance in the relationship with her long time friend, Adam. It is clear that he wants more from the relationship than she does.

The friendship between Ryden and Adam is clearly platonic, and their friendship is the most endearing aspect of this film. Their relationship is pure and genuine, except Ryden is self-absorbed and does not see its true value.

Because she is focused simply on achieving her dreams, despite anything and everyone else, Ryden dismisses Adam’s feelings and ends up, through a mistake of her father, in the arms and bed of the family’s next door neighbor, Rodrigo.

Fox Searchlight Pictures seem to have a knack for finding and developing stories of eccentric, quirky families. They have previously released “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Juno” and this film is very much in the vein of the former, when it comes to eccentric families.

It is also pretty clear that this film is targeted to the same audience that made “Juno” a huge success a few years ago. One can’t help notice the similarities (especially with the camera lingering in front of Ryden’s sparkling blue eyes and childish face that belies her true age) between Bledel and Ellen Page.

With the film garnering a PG-13 rating, it is likely that many teens and families will go and see this film. Though the film does not contain any overt nudity or sex scenes, there are a few elements that merit caution.

On the lighter side, there are a couple moments of typical “toilet humor,” which incidentally lead to another element some viewers (particularly animal lovers) may find upsetting. As in many Hollywood films these days, cats seem to be getting a disproportionate share of mistreatment, and there are a couple examples of feline mistreatment here.

The film contains a lot of profanity. Each member of this off-beat family seems to try to outdo one another in how much color they can bring to their dialogue when decorated with profane words. The g.d. expletive is used excessively, and, in one instance, when Walter (Keaton) is angered, he actually uses a euphemism in replace of the epithet, but in his subsequent breaths utters the word multiple times.

Teenage promiscuity is a minor element in this film, and Christians will probably be offended by the frankness Walter has in discussing it with his daughter Ryden.

The most offensive part of the film (which I am not going to go into due to its nature, as well as the fact that it is a significant plot point in the film) involves an intimate scene between Ryden and Rodrigo. Though there is no actual sex or nudity in the scene, it is highly suggestive and climaxes with a sexual remark that many viewers will find offensive.

Overall, the film is a mixed bag. The performances are all top notch. As a movie lover, it is always great to see such cinematic icons as Carol Burnett and Michael Keaton working. The relationship between Ryden and Adam is very believable, and both actors give commendable performances. The film’s exploration of the importance of family is nice, but does not quite deliver.

As a comedy it is somewhat funny, but inconsistent. As a drama “Post Grad” does not hit all the emotional notes that it is striving for, it seems to not have the heart of many of the similar films that have come before it. Fans of “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Juno” may enjoy this film, however, I would submit, those two films are far superior in exploring non-traditional family dynamics and demonstrating growth in a character.

The lessons the film explores through Ryden would be reason enough (particularly for young adults) to check out this film had they been done in a less offending fashion and had they not been explored countless times before in a much more convincing manner.

Violence: None / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

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Comments from young people
Neutral—I think that this movie is good if you are graduating and you feel lost but from a moral perspective there are many things that are questionable. For one, she goes to a man’s house that she does not know well, and then makes out with him,and when they are caught he drops the F bomb which is very offensive, but I don’t believe that it took the quality away from the movie. I think that she learns a good lesson in the end and, really, it is very relatable. Even though she had been planning this her whole life, she realized that other thing were more important. I think that every teenager needs to get there priorities straight and even if all our plans are thrown out the window find out what is most important and go for it not get lost in our jobs and other thing that are not really as important as God and family. So I had my eyes opened by it but others might not see it that way.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Marita, age 16 (Canada)