1.5 out of 5 stars (one of the worst movies I have seen this year)
1: Is Ben Stiller (the actor) okay?
While I respect Stiller for attempting to move into more dramatic territory, I have to wonder if this film isn’t some kind of meditation on the direction his career. He specializes in endearing losers, but this character just comes off like a sad strange little man. Even stranger, he’s married to a constantly upbeat Jenna Fischer in this universe (how she chose him I will never know), so you would think some of her positivity would have rubbed off on him eventually.
2: Why hasn’t Brad approached a psychiatrist?
Brad spends nearly the entire run time of the film going over the big “what-if’s” (what if I had gone into business for the money rather than do social media outreach for a non-profit, what if I had done this, that, yada yada yada). He bottles these emotions up to the people in his life, only to force them upon the audience over a score that is simultaneously peculiar and depressing. There has to be at least one decently priced psychiatrist in Sacramento (which in this universe is the worst place you could end up, apparently) that could start to help him deal with these deep-rooted feelings of personal, physical, and emotional inadequacy.
3: Why does Brad constantly fantasize about the college girls he and his son (Austin Abrams) meet?
I understand it if a guy wants to rubberneck a little, but this is full-on pedophile stuff going on here. Again, he’s married to Pam from The Office, so why is he lusting after college girls who don’t know the difference between a 4K television and a 401K account? He goes so far as to visit a bar where the girls are hanging out and dumps all of his emotional baggage on a poor supporting character (Shazi Raja), who thankfully tells him that he is the epitome of “First World Problems”. Hey, that would have been a great title for this movie: First World Problems: A Study of Complete Inadequacy, Starring Ben Stiller and coming soon to a streaming platform near you.
4: What would my thoughts be in this situation?
(I’m changing my friend’s names here for their benefit and privacy): What if Jeff grows up to be a world-class surgeon? What if Bob ends up running the National Park Service? What if Jason is secretly the most flamboyantly gay man alive, yet never cared about me enough to come out to me, after telling Jeff and Bob? What if Lewis solves global warming? What if Laura is secretly a member of an ultra-conservative BDSM lesbian cult? Though I exaggerate here, Brad spends the Entire Darn Movie contemplating these questions instead of, I don’t know, discussing his feelings of inadequacy with his perplexingly loving and supportive wife? You say in Sickness and in Health at the altar for a reason, buddy. Now would be a darn good time to capitalize on that.
5: When will this thing end?
Brad’s Status is 1 hour and 42 minutes long. It feels double that length, thanks to everything I’ve mentioned above, along with slow pacing, blasé direction, and a continuously dour tone that gives the film an heir of believing in its own supposed importance. While I can analytically understand what writer-director Mike White (known primarily for School Of Rock) would want to explore middle age, he fails to provide Brad with any sympathetic characteristics to latch on to. Sadly, I know several people who exhibit Brad’s characteristics now, and they’re in their early 20’s. If Mike White’s intent was to make a movie about the worst-case scenario for a millennial, then he totally succeeded. Unfortunately, I do not view Facebook prominence as the Holy Grail from which I gain my self-esteem, so Brad, and the movie overall, came off as nothing but a painful experience of watching a grown man whining and about his failures. Hit the “Dislike” button on Brad’s Status.
Rated R for Language
This title is available on Amazon Prime here.