A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this lighthearted Alexis Bledel comedy is on the milder side for a PG-13 -- expect some swearing (including a few "s--t"s and one "f--k") and some social drinking, making out, and discussion of an STD. But otherwise it's sweet, if formulaic. The story attempts to address some “serious” topics -- identity, the transition between college and “the real world” -- but it doesn’t get too deep. It has a feel-good message, though that message is ultimately a little muddled: Does the perfect boyfriend really trump real-life concerns like keeping a job you worked so hard to get?
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Ryden Malby (Alexis Bledel) has always had a plan: Do well in school, get into the right college, nab a scholarship, graduate with honors, and get a plum job at the biggest publishing house in Los Angeles. But her dreams are no match for reality, which turns out to be a lot less glamorous. That perfect post-grad job? It went to someone else (her "frenemy," of all people). That apartment down the road from the glitzy office? No go, since she’s still unemployed. So she heads home to her parents’ ranch house in the Valley, where her dying (though still feisty) grandmother (Carol Burnett) wreaks havoc, as does the rest of her wacky family. Ryden starts losing faith in her dreams, but childhood friend Adam (Zach Gilford) is dependably supportive. But could hunky neighbor (Rodrigo Santoro) drive Adam away for good?
Is it any good?
You can sense Bledel straining against the band of those well-worn traveling pants. Here she plays older and (slightly) sexier, if not necessarily wiser. But Ryden is cut from the same cloth as other characters she's played before. Not to say that her performance (or the movie) isn't any good, though. In fact, as Ryden, Bledel is her usual sweet and charming self. It’s just not, well, very substantive.
Still, who cares about substance when the movie’s so much fun? Bledel and Gilford have a flirty but understated chemistry, and the plot, though predictable, nevertheless unfolds pleasantly. What elevates the film from the usual romcom is the rest of the cast -- specifically Burnett, who reminds us quickly why she’s an icon with her perfect delivery, and the uproarious coupling of Michael Keaton and Jane Lynch as Ryden’s parents.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's final take-away. Which is ultimately more important to Ryden -- her job or "the guy"? Do you think she makes believable, relatable choices?
Are Ryden's expectations about post-grad life realistic? Had she managed her expectations, would she have undergone less of a shock?
Why are more college grads moving in with their families after school? Is it harder to live on your own given today's financial realities? Is Ryden's family a help or a hindrance to her?
- In theaters: August 21, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: January 12, 2010
- Cast: Alexis Bledel, Michael Keaton, Zach Gilford
- Director: Vicky Jenson
- Studio: Fox Searchlight
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sexual situations and brief strong language
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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