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Brad’s Status – Movie Review

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Brad’s Status – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy VVS Films

The older one gets and the more somebody starts to make their career moves, there is a tendency to compare our success or lack of to others. This is an unfortunate byproduct of human’s competitive nature and Mike White explores that quite bitingly in Brad’s Status. The messages being sent and the thoughts running through Brad’s head will hit home a little too closely for some folks. However, there is a good lesson to be learned about not being so caught up in what colleagues are doing. That only serves to irritate us and using humour, White’s screenplay showcases some of the worst ideas that enter our collective brains.

Ben Stiller has found himself in these sorts of roles before, but the chemistry exhibited with Austin Abrams shows a father uncertain of how to feel about his son’s decisions. There is a degree of relatability on both sides with Troy looking upon his father with suspicion and worry. The film presents Brad as a heavily flawed individual. He’s occasionally in the right and at other times, his insecurities seem like he’s thinking too hard. Mike White cleverly utilises his head space when he compares himself to his former college pals. The scenes of Brad narrating his colleagues’ exploits are played principally for comedic purposes, but White also forces the viewer to wonder how much is truly real.

Each of Brad’s university friends are distinct, which allows the film to avoid repeating itself. Michael Sheen is a particular highlight as a pretentious television personality and college speaker, almost reprising his similar role from Midnight in Paris. Sheen plays the character with a subtleness that makes it uncertain how much he views Brad with contempt or whether he sees him as pathetic. Jemaine Clement and Luke Wilson also make memorable impressions as does Jenna Fischer as Brad’s wife. However, Stiller and Abrams are the real stars here and the father-son relationship between the two is certainly one full of complications.

Brad’s Status is not unsubtle in how it highlights human nature’s follies and continuing need for competition. With the rise of social media, there is a constant need to compare ourselves and White will certainly hit some people where it hurts. The film shows how we constantly think other people are living the high life and how we might be the only ones struggling. He doesn’t let the younger generation off too easily, either, mocking our use of buzz-words to tell others off. White had a co-writing credit on this summer’s infamous The Emoji Movie and there’s a wish that more of the satire showcased in Brad’s Status had made it into that production.

Brad’s Status seems almost destined to rub viewers the wrong way. Human nature dictates that we dislike when our flaws are shown back to us. Brad represents that part of us that can’t help but compare ourselves to others. However, beyond the scathing critique, Mike White’s screenplay is frequently funny. Ben Stiller has often made these films with Noah Baumbach and he shows how adaptable he is when working with other directors. A lot of Brad’s Status is relatable in its honesty, but we do need to hear a lot of what this film is saying. Thanks to the humour and the winning performances, this thankfully doesn’t feel like a message movie being shoved down our throat.

Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison