Theatre & Reviews

Brad’s Status

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

About the author

Peter Feldman

Peter has been a journalist and arts critic for almost 50 years and served on The Star in various capacities for 35 years, ending up as a specialist writer on films, music and theatre. During that time he travelled extensively on assignments and interviewed many international film and pop stars, both in South Africa and overseas. He also covered some of South Africa's biggest film and musical events. He was one of only two South African journalists to be invited by Steven Spielberg to the Hook film junket in LA in 1991 where he interviewed the famous director as well as Dustin Hoffman and the late Robin Williams. He attended the gala James Bond premiere in London in 1981 and did an iconic interview in a Rolls Royce with Roger Moore who played Bond. He spent a week touring England with Queen prior to their Sun City visit in 1983, interviewed a host of international stars on films sets in Hollywood and London and was the first local journalist to nail an interview with The Rolling Stones prior to their SA visit in 1995.
He is active in the freelance field and his work has appeared in a variety of South African newspapers and magazines. He has also worked on TV and radio (ChaiFM 101.9) in his specialist capacity. Over the years Feldman has been the recipient of several awards for his contribution to music journalism and the SA record industry. He is a recent recipient of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz award in recognition for his long standing journalistic support for the arts. He wrote lyrics for some top artists, including Sipho Mabuse, and had a hit disco single, "Video Games," which was released in 1988. He coined the phrase "Local is Lekker" which he used in his columns in The Star Tonight and broadcast in the 70s on David Gresham's popular afternoon show on Springbok Radio.

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