Thursday, 18 January 2018

Brad's Status Film Review

Brad's Status directed by Mike White finds Ben Stiller reading about his ex-college buddy's new home in an architectural magazine, at a dinner party with friends. And it sets a chain reaction off in his head where he analyses his more successful friends' lives. His not-for-profit business is not very profitable and his parents-in-law may be leaving their inheritance to the grandkids. And he's only got one kid so how's that fair!

But what a son. A gifted musician who might get into Harvard. And that's where we find Brad and Troy, played by Austin Abrams, just off to Cambridge for an interview. And not getting an upgrade on the flight as silver frequent flyer membership isn't gold. And then when they arrive, Troy, the gifted child, got the date wrong, and the interview was yesterday.

Cue a frantic call to wife Jenna Fischer to find someone they know at Harvard who can arrange another interview while they're still there.

And fate is kind. One of his college friends is ex-White House and now a tv political pundit, a successful author who also happens to take a class at Harvard. But fate is also being ironic, because the last time they met, Craig Fisher, played by Michael Sheen, then didn't return his calls. Nor invest his wealth in Brad's charity. In fact it would appear that Brad has lost contact with all his college friends. And they are all very rich and successful compared to Brad, as he looks them up online

Luke Wilson's Hedge Fund financial whizzkid Jason Hatfield, flies his family on his private plane. But his wife, unlike Brad's perfectly happy and content wife Melanie, had her own money too. Writer and director Mike has a ball playing Nick Pescale as a rich, hot shot, and very happily gay Hollywood director, who never invited Brad to his recent wedding. And Jemaine Clement's Billy is really living the life, rich and retired in Hawaii with two young girlfriends. And even while retired he's starting more tech businesses, and making even more money.

What went wrong Brad asks himself, and no wonder he is seeing green. Even his assistant has jacked the job in as he can see it's better to make money on Wall Street, and then give to who he wants. Rather than be the guy asking for money.

And we see all the awkwardness of Brad's life with his voice-overs, his imagining his friends glamorous lives, his dreams of success for his son achieving what he never did. But he may make no money and be a busker even with his talent. Or if he is successful and buys his own island, then maybe he will resent him his success, or worse his son feels sad for him for being a loser. Except he's not a loser Troy's friend Ananya, played by Shazi Raja, tells him, of his first world problem of not being in the 1%. Very few of us are. And he doesn't change her starry eyed vision of the world.

Of course it turns out that there's no place like home for Brad in this bitter sweet tale, and Ben Stiller makes you cringe one moment and then examine your own navel the next. Before settling emotionally for what he has, rather than wanting the grass that's on the other side.

A good attempt by Mike White at making you feel paranoid about your own life, even while you know that there are filters on every one elses.

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