Magazine article Variety

Brad’s Status

Magazine article Variety

Brad’s Status

Article excerpt

REVIEW

Brad’s Status

Director: Mike White

Cast: Ben Stiller, Austin Abrams, Jenna Fischer, Luke Wilson, Jemaine Clement

It's hard to say how it happened, but over the past decade, Ben Stiller has effectively cornered the market on playing malcontent middle-age white guys. So, while this is the first time he's actually embodied Brad Sloan - the married and miserable fiftysomething who frets his way through "Brad's Status" - this latest performance is basically just a slight variation on the characters he tackled in "While We're Young," "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and, most recently, "The Meyerowitz Stories."

A piercing satire of first-world privilege from sardonic maestro Mike White (the writer behind "Beatriz at Dinner" and HBO's "Enlightened"), "Brad's Status" takes a tough, critical look at a one-time idealist (and full-time egotist) who's about to send his teenage son Troy (Austin Abrams) off to college. Instead of putting himself in his son's shoes, Brad spends most of his time obsessing about his own failures, comparing where his personal life trajectory has taken him with those of his old university pals (amusingly played by Michael Sheen, Luke Wilson, Jemaine Clement and White himself). To Brad, the unctuous quartet appear to be living the dream, while he's stuck living in Sacramento.

Most of "Brad's Status" takes place on a visit to East Coast colleges, where Troy - who's something of a musical prodigy - stands a good chance at being accepted to Harvard. And yet, instead of being elated for his son's success, Brad is preoccupied with the fact that his own college buddies appear to be much richer and happier than he is. Without giving anything away, the movie builds to a classical music recital in Cambridge, Mass., and there, dead-center in the audience, is Brad, playing world's smallest violin. …

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