While touring colleges with his teenage son, an introspective, middle-aged family man (Ben Stiller) can’t help but compare himself to his more successful cohort of old friends (Luke Wilson, Jemaine Clement, and Michael Sheen), in acclaimed writer Mike White's second directorial feature.
A true cinematic polymath, Mike White (writer of Beatriz at Dinner) possesses a singular vision that infuses the breadth of his output as writer, actor, producer, and director. White's second feature as director is his most fully realized statement, plumbing the themes of dissatisfaction and obsessive envy that have been intrinsic to his work since his brilliant screenplay for 2000's Chuck & Buck. With a cast that includes Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, and Michael Sheen, Brad's Status examines those nagging anxieties many harbour but few admit to.
Brad Sloan (Stiller) has a steady job, a comfortable home in Sacramento, a loving wife, and a talented son he's set to accompany on a tour of prospective colleges. But Brad can't stop comparing himself to his old buddies, all of whom have found wealth and renown in fields ranging from hedge funds to Hollywood movies to political punditry. Brad should be devoting his energies to supporting his son's transition into higher education, but all he can think of is showing off what he doesn't actually have or desperately grasping at his former cohorts' spoils.
Hilarious and poignant, this wise comedy neither shies away from the absurdity of its protagonist's complaints nor denies the depths of his existential crisis. As with all of White's projects, from The Good Girl to TV's Enlightened, Brad's Status speaks to our most uncomfortable feelings — and finds dignity in the unvarnished truth.