Brad’s Status

There comes a point, for some several points, where a person takes stock of their life and achievements. Inevitably this leads to thinking about what might have been given the choices that were made a long time before. This is the basis of the new Ben Stiller movie Brad’s Status.

As Brad (Ben Stiller) embarks on a tour of potential universities for his son he starts to reflect on just where he is in life. He is happily married to Melanie (Jenna Fisher) and has a son he loves and has pride in. It is when he measures his achievements against those of his college peers that he has a nagging sense of missing out on something. All of his former student friends have gone on to be major successes in their fields and for them money is not a problem. For Brad it is slightly different. He runs a non profit organisation and while he is not in the top 1% of wealth, he is not exactly on the bread line. Still he can’t stop the feeling that he has somehow failed to live up to his youthful expectations.

On the surface this looks very much like First World Problems: The Movie. A man who has love, health and a good life is discontented. It could, and perhaps does, alienate some of its potential audience. It is something that should be stuck with though as it goes a lot deeper than its top layer suggests.

With an almost present narration from Brad we see what he is actually feeling. He is having a crisis of sorts. This is driven by a number of factors. His only son is getting ready to move on to the next phase of his life. Although proud and happy for him there is a sense of his life being over. He measures this against his old friends. His imagination gets the better of him and his envy is manifested with dreams of how they are living the high life. When he tries to upgrade his flight tickets to business class his failure is measured against how one of his pals flies in his own personal jet. This and everything else that happens to him only serves to increase his inner despair.

When presented with reality Brad almost seems to brush it off. There is a scene late in the film where a dinner with one of his friends yields some truths that shatter his pre-conceived ideas. Each and every one of his friends have issues of their own and are just as messed up as Brad is. Rather than confront this, he instead turns on his dinner companion with some harsh words. It is an attempt to try to reorder his world.

Stiller is excellent in the title role. He has developed his dramatic roles over the years by working with some of the most interesting up and coming directors. He gives the impression that he is totally comfortable taking on a role of a character that appears quite reserved at first. Brad is a very buttoned down individual which Stiller conveys well using a range of subtle expressions and actions. This performance carries the film for me. The narration is key to our understanding as it takes us inside Brad’s head and gives another view of just what he is going through.



John McArthur
Latest posts by (see all)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.