Cast: Ben Stiller, Austin Abrams, Jenna Fischer, Luke Wilson, Luisa Lee, Michael Sheen, Mike White
Director: Mike White
Ben Stiller takes on his most serious role to date and nails it under the astute direction of the celebrated Mike White.
Stiller, whose frivolous detours into comedy didn’t always work, provides viewers with an acutely observed performance as his character heads for the sort of mid-life crisis many often face.
He plays Brad Sloan who has a satisfying career and lives a reasonably comfortable life in suburban Sacramento. His world rotates around his sweet-natured wife, Melanie (Jenna Fischer), and their musical prodigy son, Troy (Austin Abrams).
Brad travels with Troy to Boston to enrol at university, but the visit to his old alma mater is not quite what he imagined during his college glory days. Showing Troy around Boston he meets up with his best college friends: a Hollywood big shot (Mike White), a hedge fund founder (Luke Wilson), a tech entrepreneur (Jemaine Clement), and a political TV pundit and bestselling author (Michael Sheen). As he imagines their wealthy, glamorous lives, he wonders if his present status as a social media consultant in the non-profit sector is all he will ever amount to. He begins to seriously question whether he has really failed or, in some ways at least, is the most successful of them all.
Son Troy, shaped by an outstanding performance from Austin Abrams, is a musical genius with the abilities to make the grade – even at Harvard. But as they visit the various east coast colleges, Brad begins to doubt himself and mistakes his son’s success as a dark reflection of his own failure.
Mike White has fashioned a high-anxiety satire, with a subversively funny script, where getting one’s son into a good college is more traumatic for the parent than the son.
Ironically, it’s a stranger who gives Brad the kick in the psyche he needs. She’s Ananya (a commanding Shazi Raja), a Harvard student friend of Troy’s who Brad seeks out at a bar while his son is asleep.
“Brad’s Status” is a tough film to digest and its title character mirrors universal challenges that face so many in today’s competitive world