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Brad's Status


Stars: Ben Stiller, Jenna Fischer, Austin Abrams, Michael Sheen, Luke Wilson, Mike White, Jemaine Clement

Director: Mike White

Here's all-American angst, ramped up to the nth degree. An older Stiller, beginning to look like a mournful Henry Winkler, is suburban Brad, who, running a non-profit-making company in Sacramento, is suffering a more-than-minor midlife crisis.

As his son (Abrams) prepares for a Harvard interview, Brad compares his own 'humble' status to his own friends at university, all of whom now seem to be high-flyers. 'What's wrong with me?' he ponders, and he might well ask; this tetchy man is poor company through most of the film, unable to shake off the feeling that he has failed to make the most of his life.

And I didn't buy for one moment that plot device that his son would have got the date of his Harvard interview wrong. Good grief, the letter would have been plastered on the family wall, with the date ringed in red on the calendar. Come on guys, you can do better than this!

Remembering his friends, who seem to have ignored him (no surprise there), Brad groans that, for them, the world is not a battleground, but a playground - a dream... The only true success in the group (Sheen), however, uses his influence to come to Brad's son's rescue; Sheen also takes part in the film's best scene, a dinner with Brad that comes just before the end of the film.

Sheen's charisma and subtlety of playing here knocks spots off the rest of the cast, in this very American angstathon.

David Quinlan

USA/Canada 2017. UK Distributor: Amazon Studios. Colour (unspecified).
102 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 01 Jan 2018