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'Post Grad': The story of my generation

While the largest share of moviegoers this weekend went to see the new Tarantino bloodbath, “Inglourious Basterds,” I decided upon the path less traveled, and went with some fellow thirty-somethings to a comedy that pinpoints the disillusionment of not only my generation, but those following: “Post Grad.”

When my friends and I were children, we were taught the “surefire” path to success was to study hard, get good grades, go to college and then launch into a rewarding and likely financially prosperous career. It was the plan, the expectation, the norm for generations that came before us.

It was an illusion.

In “Post Grad,” 22-year-old Ryden Malby discovers, as many of us do, that a college degree these days only guarantees the graduate one thing: student loan payments.

Not even Ryden’s impressive list of internships can land her the job she’s always dreamed – even planned – of working, and after a string of disappointing interviews that fail to get her any job, Ryden discovers that hard work and good grades … don’t necessarily amount to anything.

Faced with losing her lease when she fails to get the dream job, Ryden cries out to the landlord, “I can get another job! I’m a college graduate!”

“Oh, I didn’t know you were a college graduate,” responds the landlord … right before he slams the door in her face. The metaphor in the moment is significant.

A few scenes later, the postman delivers Ryden’s official diploma. She discards it. It’s less meaningful to her than the bills that accompanied it in the mail.

Indeed, all of Ryden’s well-laid plans come to naught, and the little girl who grew up thinking she knew exactly what she wanted discovers she really knows nothing at all.

And that is exactly the point.

Woody Allen said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”

And while I wouldn’t regularly quote Woody as a source of spiritual wisdom, on this one he got it right.

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart,” Scripture tells us, “but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).

“Post Grad” opens with a creative segment, watching Ryden’s vlog, listening to her tell the audience in all the intimate detail of a MySpace page exactly what her “plan” is.

The only problem is, not only can she not seem to finish off the plan, but she also learns – the hard way – that even when her plan takes her where she wants to go, it isn’t really where she wants to be.

Metaphorically speaking, she discovers that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12).

The point of the biblical passage is that our human wisdom is finite, our foresight flawed, and, like Ryden, chasing after the things we want so badly often leads away from the things we want even more. The ultimate path to fulfillment is not faithful adherence to a plan, but faithful obedience to our God.

Few are they that find they can trust God enough to surrender their plans and follow him wherever he may lead … but they are the happy few.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

In “Post Grad,” Ryden Malby is slapped with the reality that the pursuit of her own selfish future has cost her those most dear to her:

“You’re so obsessed about your future,” stings the love of her life, “you forget everyone you’re supposed to give a s— about!”

Only when she learns the radical act of surrender (albeit to “love” in this film, not to God, the author of love), does Ryden find there’s been a better future in store for her all along than the one she had so meticulously “planned” for herself.

“Post Grad” is an occasionally funny, though more often formulaic and predictable romantic comedy. To its credit, its characters are charming and it has a feel-good sort of ending – which, to be honest, are not virtues I suspect I would have listed about “Inglourious Basterds.”

Content advisory: