starring Alexis Bledel, Zach Gilform, Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch, Bobby Coleman, Rodrigo Santoro and Carol Burnett
screenplay by Kelly Fermon
directed by Vicky Jenson
I watched this movie specifically to see Carol Burnett, whom I enjoyed on television in the 1970s. Post Grad is a gag-reflex-inducing formulaic story of a fresh college graduate with disturbingly blue eyes struggling to find her first job. She fails, and has to temporarily move back in with her parents. Coincidentally, I was simultaneously reading the British novel One Day (David Nicholls, 2009) which begins with exactly this premise before expanding on the twenty-year friendship of two alumni in a British context rather than an American one. It’s sickening to watch the portrayal of fresh young people full of learning, clutching their diplomas, pregnant with expectation and hubris. Especially hubris. Was I like that? I stayed in school until I was 27 - maybe as a refuge from the ‘real’ world, but not really. 22-year-olds are still such children.
Post Grad illustrates a contrast between Japan and North America that is a thorn in my side. When I was a student in Canada I figured that school came first and I was not a graduate until I actually graduated. Therefore I had no thought of even looking for a job until after I graduated. That’s right, isn’t it? The college senior who already has a post-grad job lined up - in his father’s company, for example - is the anomaly, not the rule. In the film, immediately after graduation all the classmates giddily rush off to job interviews brimming with confidence and ridiculously meager resumes and then reunite in a bar after a couple of months to brag of their success: Harper and Collins!; Citibank!; Novartis Pharmaceuticals!; or, law school!; medical school!; research grant at CERN! It’s so annoying, actually, but as I say, it establishes the pattern: first, graduate from college, then look for a job, then get a job. In Japan college seniors secure their jobs before they graduate. In fact, most of their last year of university is devoted to the task of attending large recruiting fairs, all dressed up in their new, cheap black suits or skirt ensembles. You can always spot the college seniors or the company freshman. Young men looking for white collar work or in their first year of employment stand out because it takes a while for their wild, dyed-brown youthful hair to be tamed into the short, uniform black expected by serious adult Japanese culture. And, just like the women, they cluster with their identical-looking mates. The success of university graduates job search at these recruiting fairs is heavily reported in the media as a measure of the strength of the economy: job creation.
Anyway, Post Grad is a feminine movie, written and directed by women. It had to be. And by the way, seeing Carol Burnett again wasn’t the thrill I was hoping for, but she’s still a talented comedienne. She stole any scene she was in, which is a difficult chore if you’re playing against Michael Keaton.