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Beetle Juice! Beetle Juice! Beetle .... Aww, Hell

By Dustin Rowles | Film | August 21, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | Film | August 21, 2009 |

Post-Grad is a fairly un-redeeming movie, though you probably don’t need a review to guess that. I assumed it was going to be fairly vanilla, but had hoped it would at least provide some empty pleasure, an idle 90 minutes of frothy nothingness, a made-for-TBS movie pockmarked with enough geniality to carry it toward a predictable, formulaic end. But it’s not even that — no one needs to fear that it will wind up on your personal secret shame lists anytime soon. It’s not vanilla so much as its flavorless — bottled water sweetened with Splenda. There are no guilty calories in Post-Grad because there are no calories at all. Just well-lit filler taking up space in your glass.

Alexis Bledel stars as Ryden Malby — her character name is the most interesting part of the entire movie. She’s just graduated college, and has her entire life planned out. She’s set to interview for her dream job at a big publishing house, and is already signing a lease in anticipation of securing the job. Unfortunately for her, the valedictorian of her class swoops in at the last minute, steal the job, and forces Ryden to move back home and spend her summer scouring through the want ads. In the meantime, she’s also navigating her relationship life — Adam Davies (Zach “Matty Saracen” Gilford) has been her supportive Ducky all her life, but she’s not interested in him romantically. Meanwhile, after her father (Michael Keaton) accidentally runs over the cat owned by the next door neighbor, David (Rodrigo Santoro), she ends up messing around with the 34-year-old infomercial director, while poor Adam — debating whether to pack up and move across country for law school — pines away for Ryden on his acoustic guitar.

Post-Grad goes down just as you’d expect, but it does so in the blandest way imaginable. There are no jokes; no running gags; no uncomfortable moments; and no steamy hook-ups. Just a lot of wholesome, toothy smiles and Bledel’s stilted manner. In fact, Post-Grad may have the softest PG-13 rating in the history of film — it’s four modest curse words away from a G-rating. It’s processed Cheez Whiz without the Whiz, too lukewarm, even, to work up much of an ire. That the movie’s sole callback is an Eskimo pie says about all you need to know. Indeed, it’s a testament to Post-Grad’s listlessness that not even the Joshua Radin song in the end can inject any helium into the movie. Radin alone has made a career out of single-handedly adding moments of poignancy to even the worst televisions shows, but he’s powerless here, like Green Lantern playing to a crowd of yellow hats.

The travesty here, though, is the wasted talent: Jane Lynch (who is in everything these days) doesn’t even get to play the salty, foul-mouthed hard-ass she’s known for — she’s just another Kraft soccer mom. J.K. Simmons has two short scenes that add nothing to the movie. Carol Burnett — skin stretched across her cheeks like Silly putty collecting newsprint — plays the grumpy Granny, and poor Gilford is relegated to a walking, talking dopey smile (as dopey smiles go, he’s got one of the better ones). Bledel, as usual, is a charisma vacuum — she just stutter smiles her way through the picture, kicking your teeth in with those blue eyes, waiting — I suspect — for Lauren Graham to save the day.

And yet, for all its inertia, I walked out of Post-Grad feeling a little somber. It’s hard to accept what’s become of Michael Keaton. Nearly 30 years ago, now, Michael Keaton played Mr. Mom, and now he’s the poor man’s Steve Martin. And not even the good Steve Martin. He’s the poor man’s Steve Martin 2.0. Keaton was Beetle Juice. He was motherfucking Batman, for God’s sake. And look what’s become of him. The takeaway lesson? Appreciate your big screen celebrities while you can. Blink, and before you know it, Ryan Reynolds or Robert Downey, Jr. will be playing fathers in bad family comedies. Age is a cruel mistress, and Hollywood can be a mean goddamn lay.

Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba.

Pajiba Love 08/21/09 | Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.