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|Index||26 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It speaks volumes that a movie like this gets a 6.6 here at IMDb while
a Guardians of the Galaxy gets an 8.5.
I thought this movie was great. This movie will undoubtedly do very well in Europe, as do Woody Allen movies, and for the same reasons: this movie articulates some of our inner thoughts and re-focuses our attention on what is important in life. It is engaging and makes you think. Highly entertaining.
Many people I believe were put off by the abrupt ending and it is a bit abrupt. But the writing is just perfect and Ben Stiller has so much depth. Ben Stiller has to be commended. He can make millions and chooses from time to time movies like this one and Greenberg. Keep them coming Ben. Much appreciated.
"Brad's Status" is a comedy-drama from the co-writer of "The Emoji
Movie". Notice that the marketing for this hasn't led with that.
But Mike White has done his penance here; this belongs up there with some of his best work like "School of Rock" and Jennifer Aniston's "The Good Girl".
The hero is Ben Stiller though, who plays the title character, whose reached a point in life where he can't help but find his life lacking when compared to others, particularly his friends.
And we've heard about movies that shine an uncomfortable light on us all; I know i've heard people say "mother!" does this, although many of us still have no idea what it's shining a light on.
But here it's actually very clear and very brilliant the way this film looks at things like achievement and idealism in America and how the striving for success and to put that bumper sticker on the car shouting it out can have an adverse affect.
Much of this film is Brad going through an inner-monologue with himself so be prepared for a lot of narration, but the fears he has are never ones you can't relate to and his hopes always something we feel the American dream should be, even when they're ridiculously selfish.
The best part about the film is that Stiller always feels like a character who has lived in the real world and who has had a natural progression from the way he thought in his youth to the way he feels now.
There are a number of profound moments here- one scene between Stiller and a young college student one of the best of the year. It's a slow moving movie but always compelling.
So I go 8 out of 10 guys. If you liked this, check out Craig James Capsule Reviews on Youtube.
"We aren't poor." Melanie Sloan (Jenna Fischer)
In those three words, the titular character's wife succinctly parses his midlife crisis: Brad (Ben Stiller) needs to smell the roses, to see that what he has in his upper-middle class comfort is more than most could hope for. Brad's Status is a text book exposition of a man's midlife crisis at 47 years old.
It's not a pretty sight when he embarrasses his brainy son, Troy (Austin Abrams), at a Harvard interview opportunity by pushing too hard with the admissions staff. Besides that obnoxious parent-at-interview motif, which I have witnessed as a Georgetown alumni interviewer, Brad is struggling, mostly in voice-over narration, with an unhealthy envy of his buddies who have entered into the 1% of fame and wealth.
A Tufts grad that started his own non-profit, Brad needs a jolt to realize how good his life really is. Buds like noted author and TV star Craig (Michael Sheen0 prove to have their own issues that don't show up in the media. Too obvious a compensation from writer/director Mike White, nonetheless it is axiomatic that "the grass is greener on the other side." Will Brad learn this lesson after thinking about his accomplished wife and son? You can pretty much guess.
Although I could not sympathize with Stiller's previously solipsistic hero in Greenberg, his Brad makes mid-life sense to me as he gains our sympathy over his self-centered obsessions. Xavier Grobet's cinematography, focused as it is on close ups of Brad, does very little else to further visually this universal experience, and generally none of the shots are as remarkable as the simple takes of the two coeds' classical playing in the orchestra.
Stiller should be nominated; no recent actor has shown such authentic anguish at that certain time of life when you can accept the goodness of the life you have led or drive yourself into an unpleasant status.
Brad (Ben Stiller) has lately been fretting about his "status" in the world of middle-agers. As he and his son Troy (Austin Abrams), a gifted musician and composer, are about to embark from Sacramento to a Boston tour of colleges, Bradley is in a funk. This is because he has been pondering the so-called more successful lives of his college pals. Jason (Luke Wilson) is a jet-setting, rich hedge-fund manager while Billy (Jemaine Clement) made a tech fortune and retired, at 40, on Maui. Worst of all, Craig (Michael Sheen) is a best-selling pundit on political issues and teaches at Harvard. What has he, Brad, done? For wife Melanie (Jenna Fischer) and himself, its strictly the mundane bourgeousie. Brad manages a non-profit that finds funds for other non-profits while Mel works for the California government. So, while Troy and his dad go to Harvard and Tufts for interviews, Brad upsets the apple cart by embarrassing Troy in front of friends and administrators. This is doubly so when Brad actually needs Craig's help to gain a 2nd interview with a dean! But, in truth, is Brad's status beyond lame? This wonderful, quirky film is almost a monologue as the viewer gets a running commentary by Brad of each and every situation. Yes, there are interludes of actual conversations and happenings and Abrams, Wilson, Clement, Sheen, Fischer and all of the rest do good work. But, its up to Stiller to carry the film with his wry, self- deprecating analysis of life and he does so beautifully. We bow to you, Ben! Scenery, costumes, illuminating script and deft direction all bring the film satisfying results. Most importantly, the movie truly gets it "right" on what makes a life well-lived. Go, go to Brad, film lovers! Hollywood rarely bestows gems like this anymore.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mike White the writer and the director gets a little credit and all the
blame for this one. The lead character is so shallow and difficult to
be around. If that isn't bad enough he is constantly revealing his
thoughts and feelings in voice over dialogue. It's a perfect movie for
a blind audience. Little is shown, every aspect of an inferiority
complex is verbally expressed.
There's a sophisticated score that sounds classical. The music is loud and often distracting. The movie is slow with multiple scenes of the bottom of a curtain moving slowly in a draft. There's a restaurant scene near the end that is way to long and tedious.
If you want to see a movie that evokes the emotion you want to shake or slap the protagonist this is for you. It doesn't take long to realize you are wasting your time watching someone that would benefit from a therapy session.
The movie is annoying to sit through. There is no need to see it in a theater as it will play just as bad on a home platform.
Greetings again from the darkness. Mid-life crisis has long been a
popular movie topic. A list of the best would include: Fellini's 8 ½,
Blake Edwards' 10, American BEAUTY, CRAZY STUPID LOVE, SCENES FROM A
MARRIAGE, THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH, and
THELMA & LOUISE. Some of these are outright comedies, while others are
turbulent dramas. With the label 'white male privilege' being applied
so broadly these days, it's impressive how writer/director Mike White
(THE GOOD GIRL, SCHOOL OF ROCK, creator of TV's "Enlightened") so
expertly and gracefully takes on the familiar topic.
Ben Stiller stars as Brad Sloan, a married man raising a teenage son and running a Non-Profit Organization in middle-class Sacramento. As Brad and his son Troy (Austin Abrams, PAPER TOWNS) embark on an elite northeast college visitation trip, we get the sense that Brad is only now waking up to his son's rapid approach to adulthood and remarkable talent as a student and musical prodigy. This happens congruently to Brad's mid-life realization that his own college buddies are richer and more famous than he. Self-loathing, insecurities and concern over the jealousy he feels towards his own son are the focus of Brad's inner thoughts, which we hear courtesy of his narration.
Brad's college friends who are unknowingly driving his defeatist attitude include: Jemaine Clement as Billy Wearsiter who retired in Hawaii at age 40 after selling his tech company; Mike White (the film's director) as successful movie director Nick Pascale whose house is featured in Architecture Digest; Luke Wilson as hedge fund manager Jason Hatfield who married into money; and Michael Sheen as Craig Fisher, a best -selling author and frequently seen on TV political commentator. In comparison, and by today's societal levels of achievement, Brad views himself as a failure a man whose early idealism didn't change the world, and instead prevented him from reaching the capitalistic heights of his friends.
There are a couple of elements that allow the film to work. First, Ben Stiller softens his usual snark, making him more relatable than his usual woe-is-me character. Next, the film isn't as harsh on the white man as we've come to expect. There is no feeling sorry for Brad, but there is at least compassion space for him to explore what he's feeling and take stock in his life. The difference maker is Mr. White's script. The underside of human nature is explored with a deft comedic touch and incisive societal observations.
Stiller's tightly wound Brad contrasts with Troy's easy-confidence leading to some unusual father-son scenes. When Troy questions whether his dad is having a breakdown, we understand that the existential crisis is actually fairly common. We certainly enjoy watching as Troy's Harvard friend, and fellow musician Ananya (Shazi Raja) listens patiently before slapping Brad with the dose of reality he so desperately needs. Ananya's beyond-her-years wisdom leads Brad to a moment of self-awakening during her concert of Dvorak's "Humoresque". Ms. Raja's role is given much more weight than that of Jenna Fischer as Brad's wife/Troy's mother, who inexplicably only appears about every 20 minutes as a check-in during the boys' trip.
Keeping up with the Jones is a no-win approach to life, and if a Hollywood film can help a few more people understand this, then it's a beneficial way to spend a couple of hours. The Mark Mothersbaugh score has a sharpness to it that mirrors Brad's tarnished idealism and search for self. We are reminded that normal insecurities can blow up if we focus too much on what others have, and not enough on what we do.
Don't understand the good reviews. Was very a slow obvious drama/ comedy with an ending and moral you can coming even if your on Pluto. Nothing actually happens except for meaningless chit chat. The narration was totally confusing and overall a real snooze fest, and did I say super slowwwww
Gore Vidal notoriously said, "Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies," which could be this movie's subtitle. Interesting subject matter I think, but this movie could have used more of an outright plot. Whether I'm right or not, this movie had the feel of having been written with a vague direction in mind but no structured outline set down beforehand. (The long bar conversation with the big-brown-eyed girl kind of came out of nowhere and I suspect did, to the writer as he sat at his laptop.) Ben Stiller was okay, but I felt his regular (facial) expressions of resentment could have used more variety and nuance. Knowing both ends of: not thrilling at running into people as I puttered along with nothing to brag about, to suddenly being put in charge of huge projects covered in the international press that suddenly made me the star of dinner parties, I found this an interesting movie, but wanted more of a story than a collection of vignettes. (For those who liked them, this movie I felt could almost go together as a sort loose trilogy with Stiller's GREENBERG and PERMANENT MIDNIGHT.)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Be present" is Melanie's last advice to Brad as he takes son Troy to
Boston for a college tour. Melanie knows Brad needs this advice. Of
course, he doesn't follow it.
Indeed most of the film is Brad's absent-mindedness, the memories and fantasies that form his interior monologue about his "status." He's so tied to this tormenting reverie that he's not "present." He misses out on the pleasure he should be getting from his son's adventure. That's what Melanie regrets having to miss. Worse, the more nervous and aggressive Brad gets the more he disturbs Troy, whose rigorous schedule would be better served by Brad's quiet support.
Brad's decision to establish a philanthropic organization has cost him the kind of successful career his college buddies had. Their fame, fortune, celebrity and flash make Brad feel invisible. He wasn't even invited to buddy Nick's gay marriage.
Brad's fear of having failed drives him to irrational impulses. He tries to bully the Harvard admissions officers. He sneaks out for drinks with the two girls he met with Troy. Even when Brad's intervention works getting a Harvard friend's help for Troy Brad seems to be acting more for his own shaken ego than for his son.
Melanie later offers even stronger advice: "You have enough." Enough Brad certainly has: the satisfaction of his idealistic career project; the beautiful, wise still idealistic wife; the impressively poised, sensitive, mature son; a comfortable home and lifestyle. What he thinks he lacks is the false values promoted by Trump materialism. Brad's status is quite solid, until he judges his "status" from the current shallows by which Trump would consider Brad "a loser."
This film is a defence of the Trump "loser." It reverses Trump's reversal of American values. That's the theme this film shares with writer/director Mike White's earlier script for Beatriz at Dinner.
By assuming the Trump values Brad sinks into a larger problem in Trump's America: the insularity, arrogance and selfishness of white male privilege. That's what appals the idealistic student with whom he's drinking and to whom he tries to justify himself, digging his hole ever deeper.
Brad's self-flagellation starts to pivot on his dinner date with the media success Craig Fisher. It starts with Brad being reminded of his place. The star immediately wins them a better table. Brad is unsettled to learn that Fisher spoke at the memorial for Brad's university mentor; Brad hadn't even heard of his demise.
Then the mood shifts. Fisher dispels Brad's illusions about their old pals, less in kindness than in one-upmanship. Their wealthiest success has been exposed as a thief (adding to the man's fear for his infant daughter's spinal condition). The rich buddy living the idyllic beach life is a lost druggie and alcoholic. Hey, so money doesn't buy happiness? Who knew.
Fisher reports that their gay friend Nick has since his marriage turned him even more flaming. Fisher means this as a put-down, but it rather supports the value Brad needs to remember: the importance of freely and openly being oneself. The Nick character gains emphasis from director White's playing it.
The conversation crumbles when Brad tries to get personal with Fisher. Brad tells him he's proud of his friend's success. But Fisher doesn't remember the friendly competition Brad remembers they had. There's a reflexive condescension in Fisher's "Why would I feel competitive with you?" Rather than court more condescension and self-doubt Brad leaves.
He moves toward three emotional resolutions. The first is the intense pleasure of the concert, seeing and hearing the beautiful performance, holding his son's hand. That pleasure moves Brad to tears his pains couldn't. The second is his new candour with Troy. After Brad confesses his insecurity, Troy simply says he loves him. Pure and simple, like Austin Abrams' marvellously suggestive, controlled performance. The third is Melanie's reminder: "You have enough." Brad's status is quite enough, thank you, so long as he doesn't get caught up in "status."
Have you noticed that little voice in the back of your head that keeps
chattering all the time? You know, the one that just asked, "What
voice?" Only a short time ago, my own voice was telling me about all
the people in my life that I had let down and how I had failed to live
up to my own expectations. When I was able to quiet that voice,
however, I could look and see how the love with which I was surrounded
was more meaningful than any perceived failures. In Mike White's
("Enlightened" TV series) comedy/drama Brad's Status, 47-year-old Brad
Sloan, played to perfection by Ben Stiller ("While We're Young"), is in
the midst of a mid-life crisis, constantly listening to his inner
monologue telling him he is a failure because he has fallen short of
the material success of his old friends from college.
Brad is not a classic whiner or complainer but a decent and thoughtful person who is more than willing to look at his life and see what has not worked, though his telling us that "the world hated me, and the feeling was mutual" comes close to self pity. Novelist Yann Martel said, "Gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud," but the cloud does not pass over Brad. Even his wife Melanie (Jenna Fischer, "The Mysteries of Laura" TV series) becomes frustrated with his neurotic insecurity when he questions her about his possible inheritance when her parents die. On the surface Brad has everything going for him - a comfortable life in Sacramento with a loving wife, a brilliant and talented musician in his son Troy (Austin Abrams, "Paper Towns"), and a satisfying job managing a non-profit company which provides services to others.
To Brad, however, the thought that his accomplishments in life do not measure up to his exaggerated picture of his college friends success haunts him as he and Troy take off to New England to visit elite colleges in the Northeast where his son has a good chance of being accepted. Cluttering Brad's thoughts and dreams are friends like Billy Wearsiter (Jemaine Clement, "The Lego Batman Movie") who retired at age forty after selling his hi-tech company and moved to Hawaii where he is living a life of leisure with women around day and night. He also thinks about film director Nick Pascale (Mike White, "The D Train") whose luxury home received a spread in Architecture Digest magazine.
There is also hedge fund manager Jason Hatifeld (Luke Wilson, "The Girl who Invented Kissing") who married into wealth and who Brad believes owns a private jet, and of course Craig Wilson (Michael Sheen, "Passengers"), a Harvard lecturer, best-selling author and TV personality for whom Brad saves his most venomous feelings. Although Brad's emotional distress is the centerpiece of the film, the film also scores in its depiction of the tense but touching father/son relationship, handled with naturalness and sensitivity. In contrast to Brad's hyper self-critical persona, Troy is easy going and unusually self confident for a teenager, though, like many teens, he expresses his feelings in monosyllables.
When Brad becomes upset with Troy when he forgets the day of his admissions interview at Harvard, the boy seems to take it all in stride. Of course, he is very grateful when dad pulls strings with his "friend" Craig who secures an appointment for Troy with both a prominent music professor at the school, and the Dean of Admissions. With Brad continuing to beat himself up for real or perceived failures, however, Troy asks his dad if he is having a nervous breakdown which seems like a reasonable assumption given Brad's mental contortions which even extend to imagining being jealous of Troy's future fame.
Brad's Status is an honest film that captures White's incisive deadpan humor and his ability to create characters who talk and act like real human beings, not cardboard caricatures. One of the high points of the film is Brad's meeting with Troy's musician friend Ananya (Shazi Raja) during a sleepless night. Without pulling punches, she confronts him about his attitude of white male privilege, asking him directly, "Do you actually know anybody who is poor?" It is a question that never receives an answer. With her admonitions ringing in his ears, he is moved to tears during Ananya's concert performance of Dvorak's "Humoresque." Brad's epiphany at the concert may reflect the dawning realization that being alive itself is cause for celebration and that who you are as a person is more important than what you have or what you do. Ultimately, White will leave it up to Brad to discover that, in the phrase of author Charles Eisenstein, "Abundance is all around us The sky starts where the ground ends; we need only look with different eyes to realize we are already there."
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