"Brad's Status"

Writer and director Mike White has built a career out of the eccentric neurosis that has been part of his persona since childhood. The 47-year-old filmmaker has a unique voice which can be seen and heard in HBO’s “Enlightened,” 2000’s indie sensation “Chuck and Buck, the screenplay for “The School of Rock” and just this month in a film he both wrote and directed entitled “Brad’s Status.”
In the latter, Ben Stiller plays Brad a middle-aged man going through a mid-life crisis as he tours his son (Austin Abrams) around prospective colleges in “Brad’s Status.” Narrating the film, Brad overthinks his status in life in comparison to those he went to college with. Stiller’s neuroticism fits perfectly for the role, in which he tries to pinpoint the exact moment where it all went downwards for him. His overthinking of life and exhausting pondering is superficial as he neglects the fact that he has lived a life of privilege.
The relationship he has with his son is complicated. There seems to be love for each other, but also an emotional distance that might categorically be blamed on Brad’s selfish motives. 
There are some fascinating conversations between father and son here, in which the onion layers are peeled and we start to understand Brad a little more. However, they are far and few, this is mostly a film in which we regrettably can't really stand the main character nor do we really care if he makes it out just fine in life. 
The film's unpredicatability is supposed to be a positive, but instead White's efforts to constantly one-up his audience prove ineffctive. The film does come from White’s deepest personal struggles with his own dad, but relatability to his story and film will depend on whether you can appreciate the neuroses that comes with the film.  
The existential angst in the film I found was very similar to “Enlightened,” Mike White's brilliant and sadly too-soon cancelled HBO show.  White has no doubt learned a lot from that show as many of the recurrent themes and narrative devices he used there come into in "Brad's Status." The melancholy, neurotic and depply perceptive narration is the main similarity one would notice, however the fact that Laura Dern's Amy Jellicoe in that show is so much more facinating and well-sketched than Stiller's Brad really makes a difference in terms of sheer curiosity and effect.
I do like where White is going though, with "Enlightened," "Brad's Status" and this summer's "Beatriz at Dinner," he's found a new way to express his auteur voice, maybe it takes a little bit of molding before he can hit the heights in cinema the same way he did on TV, but I am quite intrigued by what he will tackle next in his neverending search for life's purpose.
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