How, exactly, do you market a genial, low-key comedy -- without raunch or major stars -- to a mainstream audience nowadays? Post Grad, which opens on Friday, features Alexis Bledel as a college graduate forced to move back home with her eccentric family. Bledel is an up-and-coming star, still known best as Rory in the long-running TV show The Gilmore Girls, but gaining increasing recognition through her roles in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and its sequel. 20th Century Fox Film is capitalizing on her appeal by marketing Post Grad as though it were a starring vehicle for her. Bledel is quite charming as the beleaguered yet ultimately determined Ryden Malby, a go-getter set on working at a publishing house until things go very wrong.
As I watched the film, though, I found myself more captivated by the supporting characters than by Ryden's job and relationship dilemmas. Jane Lynch as her mother, Bobby Coleman as her odd little brother, Carol Burnett as her live-in grandmother, and, especially, Michael Keaton as her father. In fact, Keaton appears to be channeling his role as the fast-talking, idea-popping Bill Blazejowski in Ron Howard's Night Shift from 27 years ago, all grown up as a semi-responsible adult; it's a wonderful comic performance.
And it struck me that Post Grad feels very much like a second cousin to Juno and Little Miss Sunshine and Sunshine Cleaning and Away We Go. While it may not be as successful as the best of the 'indie flicks that feel mainstream' -- in part because it doesn't strain to be profound or hip or edgy -- in its own, family-friendly way, Post Grad is positioned as a 'little film that could.'