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« TIFF Discovery: A Shirley Henderson Master Class and a Wild Argentinian Family | Main | Robert Altman Chosen for First-Ever AFI Retrospective »
Thursday
Sep142017

Review: Brad's Status

by Murtada

Brad’s Status, the new film from Mike White (the creator of Enlightened and the writer of Chuck And Buck) is about a forty-something man’s emotional crisis. That information made me giddy with anticipation. Could White have come up with the male version of Amy Jellicoe in Ben Stiller’s Brad Sloan? Are we in for an emotional ride with a polarizing but endearing character with rough but compulsively watchable qualities?

Alas, no. If you were expecting all that, I’d say go in with tempered expectations...

The movie takes place over a few days as Brad takes trip to Boston with his college-bound son, Troy (Austin Abrams), to visit some campuses. The trip triggers a crisis in Brad as he reassesses his life choices and comes up discontent with pretty much everything.

According to White:

After writing Year of the Dog, Enlightened and Beatriz at Dinner with female protagonists I wanted to write a movie about men and their discontents”.

Unfortunately what he has given us is a character with no discernable traits beyond being discontent with his life because he’s jealous of his well-to-do friends from college. Brad also has an unhealthy obsession with money and status, specially for someone who chose to work for nonprofits. He’s a pill who could have been interesting if he was written with more bite. His predicament and the epiphany that he is bound to have are obvious from the get go and there's no fire to any of the situations that he gets himself and his son into. In fact there’s a scene about 15 minutes in in which the central conflict - this man’s discontent with what he has accomplished - is resolved. He has the epiphany so why does the story go on for another 90 minutes?

Brad is so tedious that one spends the whole movie waiting for him to get his comeuppance. And sure enough, a secondary character comes in halfway through and reads him for filth. But even that was not satisfying, as it was played very low key with no catharsis. It doesn’t help that Brad seems like almost every character that Stiller has played, particularly Greenberg. Abrams on the other hand is low key but believable as a genius - he is a musical prodigy who has a good chance at getting into Harvard. He has warmth that the film needs to play off against Stiller’s frenetic energy. His repeated ask of his dad "not to be weird" is endearing. White manages to wring out a few laughs along the way to a predictable ending.

Grade: C.

Brad’s Status premiered at TIFF, opens in select cities tomorrow and expands nationwide on September 22nd.

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Reader Comments (2)

Strongly disagree. This is the best work I've ever seen from Ben Stiller and I thought it managed to hit home while still landing some hilarious jokes. White is asking some very interesting questions about privilege and I'm here for it. I imagine Stiller will be an Indie Spirit player and I highly recommend this.

September 15, 2017 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

i love mike white so i'm definitely looking forward to seeing this, but my excitement has been tempered. ;)

September 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPHIL

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