Post Grad

August 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Alexis Bledel, Zach Gilford, Michael Keaton
Directed by: Vicky Jenson (“Shark Tale”)
Written by: Kelly Fremon (debut)

It’s no secret college graduates nationwide are having one heck of a time landing a dream job. Even with a fresh degree and a go-getter attitude, finding a career in today’s market is like finding a script in Hollywood without the words “remake,” “reboot,” or “sequel” attached to it. Once you’ve found one, hold onto it tight because chances are another might not come along for a while.

That’s what makes a film like “Post Grad” such a disappointment. Somewhere inside the pages of the predictable and fruitless script, there’s a real story about what it must be like for a young woman to graduate from college jobless, helpless, and hopeless. It’s unfortunate that director Vicky Jenson (“Shark Tale”) and first-time screenwriter Kelly Fremon couldn’t find it amid the clichés and stale characters that mute the entire point of the narrative.

In “Post Grad,” recent college graduate Ryden Malby (Alexis Bledel) thinks she has it all figured out. Actually, she’s had it all figured out for a while. Even as a little girl, her life plan is something she always intended to follow. With high school and college behind her, the next step is to secure a position at one of L.A.’s most respected publishing houses.

When things don’t go quite as she wants, Ryden hesitantly moves back in to live with her parents Walter and Carmella (Michael Keaton and Jane Lynch), little brother Hunter (Bobby Coleman), and Grandma Maureen (Carol Burnett, who is completely wasted as the coffin-shopping granny) until she can find a job and move out on her own.

There to comfort Ryden during her pity party at home is best friend Adam (Zach Gilford), who wishes he could be more than a shoulder to cry on, and the hunky Brazilian neighbor David (Rodrigo Santoro), who is basically written into the script to give Adam someone to envy and to spout off motivational nonsense as Ryden tries to understand her place in the big scary world.

While Ryden starts off as a respectable character and one that might have actually been able to break all romantic comedy stereotypes, Fremon slowly but surely presses her back into that exact mold. Who could have guessed that someone as well-educated, independent, and charming as Ryden would morph into the one person a girl like her probably despised back when she had a brain in college?

Sadly, Jenson and Fremon don’t respond to her sudden change in principles. It’s all go-with-the-flow from there as “Post Grad” goes from slightly empowering to shamefully unrealistic. Like everything else these days, it would probably be best if Jenson and Fremon blamed this one on the economy.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

August 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera, Alexis Bledel
Directed by: Sanaa Hamri (“Something New”)
Written by: Elizabeth Chandler (“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”)

While I was not much of a fan of the first film released three years ago, there were, at least, some thematic elements that bordered on over-sentimentality, but generated strong life lessons. In “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2,” all those tween dreams are wasted away as the girly foursome is faced with a new set of problems, all of which are despairingly disjointed.

There is not much of a sisterhood in “Pants 2” as Tibby (Amber Tamblyn), Lena (Alexis Bledel), Carmen (America Ferrera), and Bridget (Blake Lively), graduate from high school and are now at different colleges. As in the first one, a pair of worn-out jeans they can all magically fit into, helps link them to one another as they plan to spend their summer apart.

Lena decides to take a sketching class at the Rhode Island School of Design where she stumbles into a relationship with one of the nude models. Filmmaker-wannabe Tibby takes up a job at a local video store and is presumably working on a screenplay while juggling a courteous boyfriend. Bridget has packed her bags for Turkey where she will dig up bones on an archeological expedition and sort out her life after the death of her mother. And Carmen, who was expecting all the girls to spend the summer together, ends up in Vermont auditioning (under duress) for a part in a Shakespeare play.

While away, the magic pants become a meaningless prop as the girls Fed Ex them back and forth to each other with notes about whether or not anything miraculous happened when they were worn. Forget miraculous. If something even remotely convincing happened to any of the four, it was quickly smothered by the clumsy direction of Sanaa Hamri, not to mention odd editing choices by Melissa Kent (“Something New”). It’s not so much that Kent cut it up like a daytime soap opera, it’s that it seems like when she returns to one of the girl’s stories 15 minutes later, she forgot where the bookmark was.

More distressing is that after an entire summer that these girls are supposed to be “finding themselves” in this pseudo-coming-of-age tale, they all seem to stay as baffled by life as they were from the beginning.

Still, it’s the boy problems (they all have them except for Bridget who is happily living the single life) that manage to swamp “Pants 2” the most, like any other formulaic teenage dramedy. The demographic it aims at will surely find the drippy stories innocent enough, but anyone not plugged into Miley Cyrus-type meltdowns should probably ask for a pass.