Post Grad
By the time you see this on-screen, you should have left the theater.

Theatrical Release Date: 08/21/2009
Director: Vicky Jensen
Cast: Alexis Biedel, Zach Gilford, Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch, Bobby Coleman, Carol Burnett, Rodrigo Santoro, J.K. Simmons, Craig Robinson

For all of the formulaic tendencies that coming-of-age romantic comedies seem to have, it’s surely more amazing to find a film that can’t even paint by number. Such is the case with “Post Grad” – a heaping mass of celluloid better suited for landfills, the film purports to tell the tale of Ryden Malby (Alexis Beidel) as she graduates college and hopes to embark on a successful career in the publishing world – all the while discovering that she and her male best friend are meant to be with each other (see, formulaic).

First off, what was screenwriter Kelly Fremon thinking when she named the main character Ryden? Unfortunately, I’ve been here on this blue orb to see parents decide that normal names like Matt, Diana and Steve are just too “uncool” and so they go with a never ending myriad of ridiculous alternate spellings or freakin’ verbs to name their precious bundles of joy. So I can’t say I’m honestly surprised to see a character named Ryden … but that doesn’t mean I have to like it … or this movie.

From the opening credits sequence, a far too slick and unrealistic technological communique between Ryden and the audience using computer windows, chat screens and streaming video, I was already fearing for the next 90 minutes of my life and sadly, the film was about as downhill as the childrens’ boxcar derby race that serves as one of the multiple ending points. In-between those fabulous setups is a bumbling script, pedestrian direction and maudlin acting. Are we having fun yet?

One might hope that the comedic supporting cast of Jane Lynch, Michael Keaton, Carol Burnett and Craig Robinson would be able to add something to the mix. Sadly, I think they were all duped into showing up on set one day and signed what they thought was a new cell phone contract – only to find out that the fine print included their services on what must technically be described as a “film”. Their performances reflect this sentiment, never popping on screen with any more power than an Earth friendly night light bulb.

And as much as it pains me to do so, I might have to call for a referendum on all films featuring Craig Robinson. After hilarious turns in “Knocked Up”, “Pineapple Express” and “Zack and Miri Make a Porno“, 2009 has been his undoing. I’ve now seen “Miss March“, “Night at the Museum 2“, “The Goods” and “Post Grad” all explode in front of my eyes like a fully fueled Hindenburg of unfunny proportions. Even though his performances have been funny, it’s sort of like getting a bit of clean lettuce from the dumpster. Hopefully his New Year’s Resolution will be to read the script and research the cast and director before signing onto any projects in the future.

Back to the main cast of this fabulous science experiment, Biedel is undeniably cute but just as certainly not going to take home any acting awards for this performance. If I took a sip of an adult beverage each time she whined or complained, I’d have spent my month’s paycheck all before the first hour was up. Much of it is her ability but the script didn’t do her any favors either as the quick-witted precociousness of her character from “Gilmore Girls” couldn’t be any more different from this cookie cutter goodie two shoes who never manages to make me feel like she deserves the tremendous amount of lucky breaks and certain happiness that comes her way.

Opposite her is Zach Gilford, the stereotypical good guy who has been her confidant and best friend for so long that he’s relegated himself to the couch in the corner reserved for those she’d never think of dating. He plays this wannabe Jason Mraz type (minus the singing talent) who has to make the unfair and unjust decision of going to Columbia Law School or staying in L.A. to pursue a budding music career. This Herculean decision is further complicated by his unrequited pining for Biedel, no matter how much she takes him for granted.

Of course, the requisite hurdles are thrown at the pair along the way, grand gestures are made, their families exhibit quirky randomness because that’s the cool thing to do these days and after an unbelievably long 89 minutes, the credits roll and the audience was free to run, not walk, from the theater.

There are many more elements I could find fault with and lament over but I’d prefer to spend my time doing something more productive, like brushing my teeth, taking out the trash or looking to see if I set my alarm for tomorrow. You should do the same.

And still, even after all that bile I just spewed up, I thought about giving the film a ratings point simply because the film tried to be sweet and innocuous but it constantly fails to hit even the expected and automatic film clichés so badly that I have no choice but to give “Post Grad” a 0.5 out of 5. This is one of the easiest films to tell people to pass on, no matter their sensibilities. If you’re in need of a romantic comedy, there’s “(500) Days of Summer” and if you want a little schmaltz but are further removed from Generation X or Y, “Julie & Julia” is the surest recommendation out right now. Whatever you do, skip this ceremony and hope that it graduates straight to the recycle bin.