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Brad’s Status Review – A Dour Retrospect With A Few Bright Moments

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Brad's Status, from Plan B and Amazon Studios, presents a dour retrospect of an unfulfilled life, that doesn't measure up to truth and imaginings of his super successful college buddies, who seem to be living their dreams.

Directed, written by and starring Mike White, Brad's Status also stars Ben Stiller, Austin Abrams, Jenna Fischer, Michael Sheen, Jemaine Clement, Luke Wilson, Shazi Raja and Muisa Lee.

Brad's Status begins as Brad, played by Ben Stiller, is heading off on the college tour with his son, Troy, played by Austin Abrams. The shock of having a son who is checking out the schools, including Harvard, in Boston, is freaking him out.

Soon he is taking a trip down memory lane mixing the equation with the current successes of his college buddies all of whom were super achievers, a director, owner of a Hedge Fund, former White House Press Secretary and author, and "I sold my tech company" inventor, while he reviews the successes the dollar signs seem to be cha-chinging in his mind.

All so successful and he of course, operates a Non-profit, and now his son have a solid chance of getting accepted into a college where the annual tuition begins at $40,000.


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So in voice over, Stiller, continues his trip through the last twenty years of decisions trying to determine who's fault and when and where did he make this horrific mistake that put him on the bottom rung in life twenty years after he began his career.

Granted his house in the suburbs, a wallet of credit, although at the airline counter, as we all know, the wallet of credit cards is of no help, and home, family, a loving wife Melanie, played by Jenna Fischer, although as he in retrospect determines she was too easily pleased and that in part is the reason he didn't become an overachiever.

Brad and Troy arrive in Boston with a list of colleges to visit and of course the reason the two traveled from Sacramento to Boston, was to visit Harvard. Troy for some reason gets the day wrong and Brad is scrambling to find one person who he knows that can skip the red tape and secure the interview with admissions for his son.

So Brad is left calling his college buddies, soon he is calling Craig Fisher, played by Michael Sheen, a former White House Press Secretary, and now author of a several political books, his wife, a celebrity in her own right, sold an article to HBO and now, he is has to write the script. Life, well, couldn't be sweeter we find out.

To his credit, the minute Brad asks Craig for a favor for his son it was done and essentially admission was clinched on the good word of this old friend.

As Troy meets with some of his former friends from home who are now at Harvard, the idealism of the academic community where the exchange of ideas and the belief that one can change the world is discussed and encouraged comes along and meets Brad imagination.

The clash of ideals from someone who devoted his life to Public Service and has now decided as his bank account doesn't equal that of his super successful friends, his life was wasted and as he is turning the corner at 50, there is no opportunity in the future for a windfall except of course through traditional gifting in the event his parents or his in-laws die.

I really wanted to like this film as Ben Stiller rarely disappoints with choices that usually create some laugh out loud moments. Unfortunately this film is not one of them.

There are a couple of scenes that shake up the flatlined "my life is over I haven't made an eight figure nest egg" pity party. As he is imagining Harvard, he imagines his son getting accepted and the scene is probably one of the few that have the emotion the audience expects.

The flashes to his friends and the lives the fruits of their labors have bought them are interesting. And as we find out over dinner, the lives we choose come with its own set of troubles and problems and of course health is the great equalizer and the imagination can often trick us into believing what we see is actually true.

Austin Abrams nailed his role. Abrams' performance is a genuine bright spot and worth watching. He captured each nuance of a typical teen including the ability to answer without moving his mouth.

The four college buddies, Michael Sheen, Luke Wilson, Jemaine Clement, and Mike White, are in flashes during the opening sequences and sprinkled throughout until toward the end of the film when the audiences is allowed to see reality verses fantasy.


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As idealism creeps back into the story line Harvard and again the energy associated with the academic community and the exchange of ideas presents a nice moment. The audience is allowed for a few minutes to see the superficiality that some allow to become who they are and others remind us of the realities of life.

Brad's Status, for those rounding the next curve in life, is a checklist of what to avoid and for those who are looking to begin the career aspect of life, choose wisely and determine what is the end goal.

Brad's Status is in theaters everywhere Friday, September 15, 2017.  

 

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