Thursday, April 19, 2018

Now on Amazon Prime: Brad's Status (2017)

Brad's Status (2017) - Written and Directed by Mike White; Starring Ben Stiller, Austin Abrams, Jenna Fischer, Michael Sheen, Luke Wilson, Jemaine Clement, Mike White.

By Kenny Howell

I have always had a bit of trouble connecting with Mike White's work.

There are some bright spots, like School of Rock or the TV show Enlightened, which should have received several more seasons. But others like Chuck & Buck, The Good Girl and Year of the Dog had a dissonance to them.

Brad's Status probably does have that as well for some people, especially based off its 6.5 IMDb rating. Ben Stiller plays a depressed man that really doesn't have anything to be depressed about. He has a happy marriage, a wonderfully talented son who may get into Harvard, and he is doing OK financially. But, of course, that is not how depression works. Brad's core group of friends from Tufts have gone off to wild success, and he has been left running a non-profit, which is what he always wanted to do. It's just not enough.

The majority of the film takes place on a trip as Brad and his son Troy travel from their home in Sacramento, Calif. to Cambridge, Mass. for Troy's meeting with the admissions department at Harvard. While on the way and while there, Brad ponders his life choices, the success of his friends, the state of his marriage and what lies ahead. He obviously is pessimistic, the depressed brain's thought process.

For someone who hasn't battled depression, this can probably hard to get through, hence the 6.5 IMDb rating. But for others have, like myself, White's writing is spot on. Brad has no reason to be in the state he is, one character bluntly points it out to him, but it doesn't matter. He can't get past it except for fleeting moments of happiness. That's how it works, exactly what I have dealt with for a large portion of my life, as well as many others. It's very insightful, and maybe my favorite of White's film work.

Brad's Status is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Rating: ***1/2

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