Movie Review - Brad's Status
Ben Stiller (There's Something About Mary and Meet the Parents) stars as Brad Sloan, the head of a nonprofit that helps other nonprofit organizations find funding. He lives with his wife who is a lawyer and his teenage son in Sacramento, California. His thoughts form the narration for this film, which is constant and throughout. His are an inner monologue and his thoughts do have a theme. He thinks his life is mediocre and despite living very comfortably, he wishes he had more money. The impetus for these thoughts is seeing how more successful his college friends are compared to him. All his college friends, three of them at least, are rich and living in the lap of luxury, and Brad is jealous as he watches from a far on Facebook.
The majority of the film is Brad and Troy on this college tour in Boston. They hang out in hotel rooms and on campus for meetings and whatnot. Brad is surprised though when he learns that Troy could get into Harvard but a scheduling snafu puts Troy's chances in jeopardy, so Brad makes it his mission to get his son into Harvard. In order to do that, Brad has to call in favors from his three college friends. This forces Brad to confront his jealousies and insecurities, a lot of it stemming from issues in his past and some regrets. In that way, this film is not unlike Manchester By the Sea.
In fact, this film could be "Manchester By the Sea 2" but less depressing. It's initially so but depressing over trivial matters. A man wants to trade his idealism for flying in private jets and frolicking on a beach with two sexy women. It's a movie where the stakes are Harvard-or-Tufts and coach-versus-business in terms of airplane seats. The stakes are rather insignificant and don't concern the life-and-death issues in Kenneth Lonergan's Oscar-winning film. Stiller probably won't win any awards for his character's anguish and despair, but I was more moved by the relationship between the man and teen here than in Manchester By the Sea.
Writer-director Mike White warmly and honestly explores that relationship without the usual trappings or dramatics. It's one that is genuine and many, if not every one can relate. White comes up with tensions that arise due to the situation and they're simple and straight-forward, which actually ends up being smart and fresh comedy. Because he's implanted such heart within it all, White is able to end on a beautiful note.
Rated R for language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 42 mins.