Thursday, September 28, 2017

Movie Review: "Brad's Status" (2017)

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Director: Mike White
Year: 2017
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 41 minutes

An upper-middle-class man reflects on his dissatisfaction of where his life ended up, all while his son tours Harvard and other elite universities for his college prospects.

We're getting a little tired of movies that show semi or very well-off middle-aged male characters in good marriages, with huge houses in the suburbs, smart kids about to get into Ivy League universities, and stable jobs complaining about how unsatisfying their lives are and how they are failures at it and everything in it. "Brad's Status" is written and directed by Mike White, who best known for writing "Chuck & Buck," "School of Rock," and "Beatriz at Dinner." Oh yeah, he was also one of the writers of "The Emoji Movie." It stars Ben Stiller as the titular Brad, who runs his own non-profit organization, but is unhappy because his fellow classmates went on to become millionaires. He constantly looks at life like it's competition that he is losing. He and his son Troy, played by Austin Abrams, who excelled in academics at his private high school and is a very talented musician, are about to go on a tour of colleges in Massachusetts, primarily Harvard. Brad can hardly stop complaining long enough to appreciate the whole experience since he is having a bit of a mid-life crisis. Luckily, some college kids are around to give him some insightful perspective on life.

This is a film that wants to have its cake and eat it too. It wants the white privilege moments where a financially stable adult complains about flying coach because he used Groupon to buy his plane tickets that were ineligible for an upgrade all while his son goes to a college prep. private school. It also wants to lament about the fact we as humans complain about that stuff. "Brad's Status" wants to sell itself as a film that it is a self-aware "white people problems" movie, which is exactly the problem itself. It wants to capture the true middle-class experience, but the problem is, it doesn't feel like anyone involved in this project has ever actually experienced what it's like to live in this demographic. It's as if they're writing, acting, and playing it as outsiders and are still trying to understand it.

Most of this existential crisis is told through voiceover as Brad debates himself, his life, his relationships, and the 'what could have beens' of yesteryear. Sure, he eventually gets called out on his bullshit by an idealistic kid half his age, but by then, we were already sick and tired of listening to his incessant whining. Plus, what does a 21-year-old know about the world? That's also insulting to someone who is almost in their 50's. Some critics have said the lazy approach to this film is to call it out for being about "first world problems," but is it? That's exactly what this movie strives to be. It's exactly why people think Hollywood is so out of touch. Others have said this is emotionally honest, but it's about as honest as a politician. That being said, the acting is fine from everyone involved. Ben Stiller needs to do more dramas because he can really open up his potential in this genre, but this particular story is not the right kind of vessel for him. "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," though panned by critics and audiences alike, is much, much better and we think it's criminally underappreciated. Another note is we weren't particularly fans of the handheld camerawork throughout the movie and it only suited the story a handful of times.

When it's all said and done, we hated the experience of sitting through a pretentious and ultimately pointless film like "Brad's Status." Maybe a 47-year-old man going through the same things, lamenting his problems and the might have beens of his existence may identify with this, but wouldn't you know it, half of our team just so happens to be in the same demographic as Brad, and we must say, it certainly didn't ring remotely truthful to BigJ.

My Rating: 3/10
BigJ's Rating: 3/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 81%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

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