This looks like it could be pretty charming. Been seeing the trailer crop up from time to time and I’m pretty intrigued. The story looks like it’s about a father and a son. The father takes his son touring a college that he wants to get into all the while wondering if the life choices he’s made has made him a successful person, comparing himself to other more successful friends of his from years ago. Oh… well, now that I’m writing it out, I have my reservations. If this movie is about a grown man comparing himself to his friends and the movie’s resolution is that he learns to accept his life as is, then… yeah, this better be a short movie.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Ben Stiller (ZOOLANDER 2 , TROPIC THUNDER , and MYSTERY MEN ) and Austin Abrams (PAPER TOWNS , THE KINGS OF SUMMER , and GANGSTER SQUAD ).
In support, we have Jenna Fischer (HALL PASS , BLADES OF GLORY , and SLITHER ), Michael Sheen (HOME AGAIN , MIDNIGHT IN PARIS , and UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS ), Jemaine Clement (LEGO BATMAN , MEN IN BLACK 3 , and DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS ), Luke Wilson (ROCK DOG , IDIOCRACY , and MY DOG SKIP ), and Mike White (THE STEPFORD WIVES , SCHOOL OF ROCK , and ORANGE COUNTY ).
Now for the crew. Writing and directing is Mike White, making his directorial return in ten years, but is known for writing THE EMOJI MOVIE (2017), NACHO LIBRE (2006), and SCHOOL OF ROCK (2003). The composer is Mark Mothersbaugh, known for BEATRIZ AT DINNER (2017), FANBOYS (2009), HAPPY GILMORE (1996), and upcoming films THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE (2017) and THOR: RAGNAROK (2017). Finally, the cinematographer is Xavier Grobet, known for WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT (2016), FOCUS (2015), and MONSTER HOUSE (2006).
Overall, I’m interested, but not excited.
This is my honest opinion of: BRAD’S STATUS
Brad (Ben Stiller) is a father taking his son Troy (Austin Abrams) out to tour colleges. But while he’s doing that, he’s struggling with what he believes is a life that he didn’t expect have, comparing his mediocrity with his college friends who are wildly more successful that he is.
I don’t think I hate this film, but it’s definitely not that good.
The first and primary problem is that Brad isn’t a very likable character. All he does throughout the film is complain. Complain about how his life isn’t where he thought it was going to be, constantly sizing himself up with his old college friends who found success in other fields. He daydreams about how their lives are. The good, the bad, barely ever focusing on his own life, which clearly needs reworking. Even when he does think about his life, he’s complaining. About the kid who quit his position in Brad’s nonprofit organization, his wife’s total complacency, hell, he even comments how he’d feel jealous of his own son’s success. I mean, what the hell? What parent thinks about this?! And this translates to him being a pretty spazzy asshole, telling Troy that even geniuses get rejected from Harvard, that he needs to start thinking about what he wants to do with his music, and bringing up money that he doesn’t want to needlessly spend, he’s actually a pretty mean-spirited person, and when he’s not mean-spirited, he’s depressive.
And when he’s neither of those things, he’s kind of creepy. Yeah, no joke, Brad is really creepy. One of the first scenes in the movie is Brad looking at his half naked son, covered only by a bath towel, and says, “You have the body of a man now.” Uh… Another scene is where they’re both in a hotel room and he has a tickle session with him in his underwear. Really, a father is having a tickle session with his eighteen year old son… in his underwear…? Uh…!!! But it doesn’t end there. Somewhere in the middle, Brad decides to go almost full AMERICAN BEAUTY (1999) and starts fantasizing about these college girls who seem to have the rest of their lives figured out. It’s about as uncomfortable as it sounds.
And do you want to know what his ultimate resolution is? The one thing in the story that makes him realize how good he’s got it? He attends a concert with those same college girls and their music is really pretty. That’s it. That’s literally it. *face palm*
I don’t want to make it sound like it’s all bad. There is a level of self-awareness in the film that makes for some humorous moments. There’s characters that look at Brad as he dozes off and comments how he’s being weird. Or when he’s talking too much, people will tell him to shut up. These are admittedly very satisfying moments and do prevent it from being a total disaster of a movie.
And there is admittedly something relatable about Brad himself. As much as I complain about the frequency of his daydreaming and comparing and contrasting, as an insecure person myself, I do that too. I’m on social media a lot and I do browse by posts of people who are doing such fun things, like going to clubs, traveling, meeting new people, getting married, having kids, climbing the ladder of their dream jobs, or being otherwise successful. And then there’s me, not doing all that because I’ve got my own life to deal with and how my choices got me to where I’m at and constantly trying to get out myself out. It’s hard not to feel a rush of mixed emotions, even toward the people I love: jealousy, envy, pride, sadness, depression, it’s enough to get your head spinning. But the thing is, even on the worst of days when I do that, it goes away the moment I switch off Facebook and watch a video on Youtube. Or when I’m on the road to work. Or even watching these movies and writing about them. It most certainly goes away when I’m talking to my amazing girlfriend. The point is, this isn’t shit that gets me all day. Just in that one moment, and that’s where I feel the disconnected from Brad. He dwells on it even in times when he’s supposed to feel the proudest. He’s too insecure and his life really isn’t all that bad.
Overall, I can’t say this the worst thing ever. It’s clear that there was a good, even poignant idea here that wasn’t developed properly. Some of it pays off in the end, but far too much of the movie follows a man who is way too much of a crybaby and not even all that likable, even by the film’s end. I don’t think I recommend this. No, it’s by no means the worst movie I’ve ever seen, or even the worst this year, not even close, but I just don’t think anyone would get anything out of it. At best, save it for a rental or viewing on Netflix, but definitely not in theaters.
My honest rating for BRAD’S STATUS: a weak 3/5