Quick Hit: Ben Stiller stays manic and paranoid in this well-crafted drama about a mid-life crisis.
Ben Stiller is one of the best in the business at playing a paranoid, slightly manic gentleman. He has made a career out of it in franchises like Meet the Parents. But I don’t think I can remember a film where he has jumped so completely into the role as Brad’s Status. In it, Stiller plays Brad Sloan, a man who is obsessed with comparing himself with his most successful companions from college. Like most kids, they all wanted to change the world – but now Brad is working in a small non-profit… that he owns, where he asks people to give money to charities. Compared to some of his friends appearing on television, he’s small news.
This is all compared to his son, Troy (Austin Abrams), a talented musician who is interviewing at different colleges. This runs Brad into a situation where he must reach out to his better connected friends to help with things.
The best part (and I never thought I would say this about a movie) is Ben Stiller’s voiceovers. He’s grown as an actor, and here it shows, because Stiller doesn’t get the same chances to act with his face – everything has to come through in his voice. His neuroses shine through, and it’s one of the most perfect examples of a mid-life crisis I’ve seen in film. Stiller also has some really good conversations with his friends, where they dive into his reasons for feeling inadequate. Though Abrams has some good scenes, I think the winner of this interaction is young actress Shazi Ranya, who plays a friend of Troy. Her interaction, and subsequent calling out of Brad’s behavior, is both a turning point of the film, and a turning point for Brad’s realization of his own selfishness.
I think what’s the best part about the film is how relatable things are. Few may take it to the extreme that Brad does, but most people would be lying if they said that they didn’t compare themselves to people that they went to college or high school via social media. This piece is pretty fun when compared to the total obsession that is Ingrid Goes West. However, the movie does have its faults. For example, the movie suffers with a bit of a shuffling, aimless plot. This is mainly due to the fact that the story is totally focused on Brad, and that leaves some characters, in particular, his wife, in the dust. One of the best parts of the story is seeing the reactions of other characters to Brad’s particular angst, and we don’t get to see nearly enough of the woman that would be the biggest part of that – his wife. After an initial exchange, she’s gone, only to be referenced in flashbacks and phone calls.
The movie ends up being successful but could have been better. I’m going to give it a “B”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"