Post Grad

Directed by Vicky Jenson

Starring Alexis Bledel, Zach Gilford, Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch, Carol Burnett, Rodrigo Santoro

One thing I felt while watching this movie was joy, and a good amount of it.

It is nice to see Michael Keaton back on-screen being the happy-go-lucky guy from Mr. Mom and Night Shift.  I don’t live in the past, to be sure, but why did that part of his talent have to be benched after Batman?

It is very nice to see Carol Burnett playing his mother.  The nuance she adds to character has not been seen in any medium for many years.  Betty White is nice, sure, but I am clamoring for Burnett to make a full-fledged comeback.

I can buy this happy family

Jane Lynch as a housewife was a refreshing change of pace.  I have seen her excel as anything but for so many years it added to the joy of this film to see that there is no role an adult woman can play in life that Lynch cannot successfully portray herself.  She is without a doubt one of the true talents in comedic acting today.

As much joy as these peripheral players gave for the movie, none were the focus of the film.  As Ryden Malby, Alexis Bledel adds a pleasant, if low-key presence to her surroundings.  Never having seen her  work in the acclaimed TV show Gilmore Girls and only half there for Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, I am not able to say whether this is because she has the chops or not.  In this movie, she need only be John Denver and let Keaton, Burnett, and to an extent, Lynch be George Burns, à la Oh God!.

Without the supporting cast running rampant as they were, this film would still have been somewhat enjoyable, but certainly less so.  No one but Carol Burnett could deliver a line like she does when, after barging in on Bladel and Brazilian star Santoro in the throes of passion.

Santoro and Bledel keeping it real

Still, this movie has a feeling of reality to it, like the meandering relationship she has with Santoro versus the her taking for granted her lifelong friend and wannabe paramour Adam (given a puppy dog appeal by Gilford).  There is a sense that love is not tops on her list, and it is effectively portrayed by Bladel and the director.

Still, there are the awkward moments of forced comdedy that don’t go anywhere.  The “Darth Vader” of her life, is given no depth and mostly referred to in 3rd person.  There is a “Malby” chant in the car on the way home from the police station that goes nowhere and seemingly is not enjoyed by Lynch’s character, who is driving.  Santoro takes the death of his cat as an opportunity to hit on the daughter of the man who killed it, apparently unnoticed by the rest of the family.  He procures her a job working with him and then quits the next day.  Then there is the ice cream truck on the basketball court, which is a pointed effort in the plot, but kind of flounders in execution.

All this, I think falls in Jenson’s lap as director.  Working mostly as an animator and a co-director for Shrek and Shark Tale (although she has plenty of Hollywood experience in many fields), I don’t know much about her live action work.  I can only say she has a sense for working with actors on one hand and a seeming inability to edit effectively on the other.

I liked this movie a lot, though.  Quite enough to look past its flaws and into the truth of its soul.  There are stories out there to be told that don’t involve the seven deadly sins, and they can be entertaining.  The biggest drawback for me, although it did not seem to bother my wife, is the ending.  I won’t ruin it for you, but let me just say I would not be happy if either of my daughters made the choice she did.

What path to take for a talented woman with a degree?

(***1/2 out of *****)

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