Movie Review – “Brad’s Status”

“A must-see movie for every parent of a teenager!” – Patrick King, REEL BRIEF

Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat social media venues provide countless opportunities to share our instantaneous actions and thoughts. Perhaps too much so, to the point of sensory overload. Each outlet giving us the ability to catch up and reminisce with others near or far. But what if seeing the fortunes and exuberant lives of friends creates a self-loathing, unhealthy competition with needless comparisons? Meet Brad Sloan (Ben Stiller), husband to Melanie (Jenna Fischer) and father to college-bound 17-year old Troy (Austin Abrams).

Brad’s family and social status is littered with self-doubt and a sense of insignificance when measured against his peers. On a father and son college tour, Brad (Stiller) must cope with his own feelings of inadequacy and lack of self-worth as he racks and stacks his modest accomplishments with his old college chums’ achievements.

Realizing at the age of 47 that he may have fewer years ahead of him than behind, Stiller is caught weighing his desire for content vs. ambition later in life. Younger viewers will probably find Brad’s attempt to reconcile his career path to be boring and less enjoyable than his helicopter dad antics. Older moviegoers might find this film too myopic and self-centered to care about Brad’s minor discomforts in an otherwise deeply satisfying, healthy life. But parents who’ve kept themselves up at night worrying about their teenager’s future can take comfort is seeing the fruits of “Brad’s Status”.

We watch in fascination as Stiller’s character feels he must justify his son’s worthiness to attend Harvard, oblivious to the fact that the younger Sloan has the academic gift and musical skills to merit enrollment. Brad’s insecurities don’t end there, though. Dropped back onto a campus, his personal yardstick of what defines success gets debated and career choices questioned.

“Brad’s Status” impressively looks at how quickly our children grow up. More importantly, it describes how proud they make us feel. All their small achievements as a child amassed into one thoughtful, intelligent, and independent young adult in the end.

A must-see movie for every parent of a teenager, “Brad’s Status” has several self-deprecating, funny moments at Stiller’s expense. Overall, though, it tackles the compassion and seriousness of one’s life. Stiller does a worthy job as Brad, particularly in the film’s most awkward, narrative moments. But it’s the exceptional work of the talented, now 21-year old child star Austin Abrams, who carries this story. An abrupt ending only earns a slight downgrade because the last two scenes succinctly underscore the movie’s heartfelt message.

Grade: A-

“Brad’s Status” is rated R for language. Its running time is 2 hours.

© 2017, Patrick. All rights reserved.

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"Patrick, you are my go-to guy when it comes to the box office".   - Judy O.

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