There is not one single thing in this movie that you don’t see or guess from the trailer, but for some audiences that means that it will deliver just what they are looking for.
Alexis Bledel plays Ryden, who thinks the hard part is over because she is graduating from a good school with an excellent record and has lined up an interview for the job of her dreams at a publishing house. But she discovers that, as her father says, “the world doesn’t play by the rules.” Everything is messier and harder to control than she thought. She soon finds herself living back at home with her parents and going on an excruciating series of job interviews only to be subjected to an even more excruciating series of rejections. And to make it all worse, her rival at school (played with zesty mean-girl brio by Catherine Reitman) seems to have effortlessly taken over the life she thought she was supposed to have.
To add to the confusion, there is a handsome and devoted friend who wants to be more (“Friday Night Lights'” Zach Gilford), a handsome next door neighbor who is accomplished, sophisticated, and exotic (Rodrigo Santoro), and an assortment of quirky family problems from her assorted quirky family members.
The most creative part of the film may be the opening credits, as we watch Ryden’s vlog and she tells about her plans. After that, it’s pretty much by the book.
It’s nice to see Michael Keaton back on screen, and the always-watchable Jane Lynch makes the most of the underwritten role of Ryden’s mother. Carol Burnett lugs around an oxygen tank as the irascible grandmother, with her face oddly stretched and kind of spooky. At times the film’s disjointed, almost random moments help to make it feel less formulaic. Santiago and Reitman are more vivid and interesting than any of the main characters, throwing it all off-kilter. And then it takes a predictable, but retro turn that will leave audiences feeling unsatisfied and even cheated. The folks who made this movie need to go back to school and study a little harder.