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13

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“brad’s status” movie review

Brad's Status

Brad’s Status is one of the worst titles ever — yet it’s turned out to be one of my absolute favorite movies of the year.

Ben Stiller stars as 47-year-old Brad, who lies in bed at night, comparing his boring suburban life to the lives of his uber-successful college friends. While he’s struggling to run a small non-profit he started, they’re jetting around the world, writing books, directing movies and spending an early retirement in Hawaii. Everyone is ecstatically happy and living the good life. At least in Brad’s imagination.

“For them, the world isn’t a battleground,” he says. “It’s a playground.”

Brad's Status

He wakes up his wife (Jenna Fischer, who I adore) to ask how much her parents’ house is worth so he can figure in what she’ll inherit when they die and see if that will pay for college for their son, Troy.

You see, Brad and Troy (Austin Abrams) are heading to Boston to tour colleges. Troy is a quiet kid who’s smart, a gifted pianist and, according to his school counselor, Harvard material. Ben is shocked to learn this, and it brings up so many conflicting emotions.

He’s genuinely proud of his son but he’s also remembering his own past: how much he wanted to get into Yale but didn’t. What if his son becomes rich and famous, and Brad starts to resent him?

We hear all of Brad’s thoughts in voiceovers and, although he sometimes comes off as a bit of a jerk, he is completely authentic and relatable. All his craziness comes from the fact that he’s worried that he’s accomplished nothing, that his life isn’t turning out the way he expected it to and that he’s running out of time. His problems may be first-world but his angst is real.

Ben Stiller is perfect in this role, striking that delicate balance so you can laugh at his actions rather than want to punch him. Just when you’re rolling your eyes, he’ll get teary looking at his son with so much love, your heart will melt. Many of us will recognize his character because we live with someone like him.

Brad's Status

One of the best scenes in the movie is a conversation between Brad and one of Troy’s female friends, Ananya (Shazi Raja). He pours his heart out to her, she listens thoughtfully and, then, in that keeping-it-real way of millennials, says, “You’re lucky. You’re 50 years old and you still think the world was made for you.”

Bam.

She quietly reminds him to check his privilege — both white and male — and assures him he’s fine. “I promise you. You have enough.”

As Brad learns more about his old college friends, he realizes this may actually be true.

It’s rare to find a movie that examines middle age and the empty nest from the man’s point of view — at least without throwing him into the arms of a younger woman.

I was the only one in the theater for the afternoon showing, which is a shame, because it’s smart and funny and thought-provoking.

Please get past the awful title and go see it. Brad’s Status deserves lots of likes.

Comments

  1. Brad’s experience sounds just like mine at age 49 in 2004, except I was divorced and had just lost my job/career. This is how I became the “Midlife Crisis Queen.” First I grieved how little I had to show for my life, then I changed EVERYTHING. Then I changed careers so I could spread the word about exactly how that is done. Strange to me how few sufferers seem to be looking for solutions for “Brad’s Status” because, as far as I’m concerned, they are readily available! The research is there if you are ready to pursue solutions. Some just prefer to suffer I guess…
    Thanks for sharing this movie. I will see it.

  2. I’m glad I read this, I probably would have skipped it due to the title alone! I think I’ll see it now!

  3. Can’t wait to see it!

  4. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    I’ve heard both good and bad about this movie, so naturally I’m curious to see it. On my list!

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