Thursday, September 28, 2017

[Review] Brad's Status

Ben Stiller is at the center of Brad's Status, a low-key character study that scratches at some thoughtful topics within its fairly mundane plot.

Brad is a middle-class man amidst a midlife crisis. He's bitter and jealous of his college buds (played by Mike White, Michael Sheen, Luke Wilson, and Jemaine Clement) who are all currently "living the dream" and more financially successful than him. And by "financially successful" I mean multi-multi-multi-millionaires. So Brad's case for making us feel sorry for him isn't really a good one. Anyway, when he embarks on a trip of college tours with his son Troy (Austin Abrams, who nails a certain stage of unenthused growing-pains), he's faced with a question of whose 'wants' are more important.

One of the most interesting aspects of the film is the dynamic between Brad and Troy. They clash and they bond, then they clash and they bond some more. The script ruminates on different ideas of happiness and fulfillment, generational gaps, and jaded vs optimistic ideals. Ben Stiller goes into serious Ben Stiller mode here, and it's a seriously great performance, even though his character is far from likable. In fact, he's kind of insufferable, incredibly self-absorbed, obnoxiously overthinking, and frankly oblivious to his own privilege. Along the way, we wait for him to become more enlightened or at least get called out on his #firstworldproblems. And those moments do come, and they're deeply satisfying, and they also let us know that the film has a worthwhile point to it.

The ending is abrupt, but it leaves you with some things to ponder. And while the main character still has some learning to do, the film itself isn't too proud or cynical to say "Let's put hope in the youth."

( 7/10 )

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