Movie Review: Brad’s Status

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Cast: Ben Stiller, Jenna Fisher, Austin Abrams, Michael Sheen, Jermaine Clement, Luke Wilson

Director: Mike White

Synopsis: Brad Sloan has a satisfying career and a comfortable life in suburban California, but it’s not quite what he imagined during his glory days in college. Sloan keeps comparing his life with those of his four college friends, wondering what it would be like to have their well-paying and glamorous jobs. When circumstances force Brad to reconnect with his buddies, he soon begins to question whether he has failed, or is in some ways the most successful of them all.

One thing I’m not a fan of are old, white, middle class men going through a midlife crisis and expecting me to feel sorry for them, and watching Brad’s Status was right down that street. Brad (Ben Stiller) has an non-profit organisation while his college friends have all become highly successful and are living the high life and he is rather bitter. This all comes to pass when he takes his son, Troy (Austin Abrams) to visit Harvard University on a college tour and he is forced to come to terms with how he has been comparing himself to his friends all the years.

This film acts as a sort of guide, a warning manual, about how easily we can let life slip through our fingers when we keep looking back, keep thinking ‘what if’, keep comparing ourselves to others around us. And even though Brad is not the norm, he is seemingly well-off compared to most, most viewers can resonate with the message coming across. We have all seen the Instagram posts of successful classmates and looked at our own lives with bitterness. The film also doesn’t excuse away the privilege of its’ title character, there is an excellent scene where one of Troy’s friends, Ananya tells him off for how great his life actually is and how his whining is sounding a lot like white male privilege, it is an excellent scene, that causes Brad and the audience to reevaluate their situations. She tells him, “You’re 50 years old and you still think the world was made for you”

Ben Stiller is excellent and understated in the role of Brad Sloan, as he usually is when he takes on drama roles, and the short cameos from his classmates – played by Michael Sheen, Jermaine Clement, Luke Wilson, and writer and director Matt White – provide a nice addition to the film. In the end, this is a film about the relationship between a father and a son, about letting go of regrets and making the most of the life that you are given. And the intimate nature of the film tells this well, it feels almost suffocating at some points as we are almost stuck in Brad’s mind as he neurotically overthinks everything.

The film often feels as if it is missing something – a scene, a line, a charismatic character – but if you are looking at an epic drama, this is not the right film for you. However, if you are looking for an intimate, understated drama which will make you feel uncomfortable and make you evaluate yourself, give this a wiz.

Rating: 3/5

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