- The Washington Times - Friday, August 21, 2009

It’s not easy to create a movie that captures the zeitgeist just right: Between the years of pre-production, script rewrites, actual production and post-production, what was important when a movie’s idea was born is rarely what’s important when a movie finally hits the screen.

But sometimes filmmakers get lucky. Sometimes they stumble into a subject that really nails the feeling for an age, combining a nationwide problem with a heartfelt story that taps into the national sentiment.

“Post Grad” is not one of those times.

In a minor miracle of incompetence, the makers of “Post Grad” managed to squander a promising and timely concept — relative scarcity in the job market — acted out by a superior supporting cast made up of Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch, Carol Burnett, J.K. Simmons, Demetri Martin, Fred Armisen and Craig Robinson by turning in a screaming dud of a comedy.

Ryden (Alexis Bledel) has a plan for her life, always has: good grades in high school, a scholarship to a small liberal arts college and, finally, a job at the largest publishing house in all of Los Angeles. One might question her ultimate goal: Isn’t working for the best publishing house in L.A. kind of like working for the hottest modeling agency in Sheboygan, Wis.? But no matter — she can’t get hired there or anywhere else anyway.

When she isn’t on the hunt for a job, Ryden splits her time between her kooky family (Mr. Keaton and Miss Lynch play Ryden’s father and mother) and her best friend, Adam (Zach Gilford), the sensitive songwriter who remains hopelessly smitten with her despite constant rejections. Also competing for Ryden’s affection is David (Rodrigo Santiago), the Brazilian hunk across the street who spends his days filming infomercials.

The David character is an odd one: He pops up occasionally to provide advice (and, once, a job) only to disappear for long stretches of the film before delivering the movie’s heartfelt message. Life, it seems, is not about what we do but with whom we do it. Aw. Ugh.

Despite some quibbles with the supporting ensemble listed above — Mr. Keaton’s usual twitches are amped up to an almost unbearable degree, for example — the real problem with “Post Grad” is that the supporters simply outshine the leads. Miss Bledel is a little bit empty; Mr. Gilford is entirely empty. Neither one comes across as terribly believable or lifelike, especially when compared to the fine actors with whom they share the screen.

★½

TITLE: “Post Grad”

RATING: PG-13 (sexual situations and brief strong language)

CREDITS: Directed by Vicky Jenson, written by Kelly Fremon

RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes

WEB SITE: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/postgrad/

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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