By Megan Bianco
As is the case with every comedian who gains superstardom, there comes a point in the middle of their career where they have to figure out where to take the next step before their shtick becomes overexposed. Some crossover into dramas—like Robin Williams or Jim Carrey—or choose to be low-key in indie flicks, as did Kristen Wiig. Ben Stiller has smartly chosen to find his mid-career niche with dramedies. This year he has similarly themed family pieces with The Meyerowitz Stories and Brad’s Status, the latter now in theaters.
On the eve of his son Troy’s (Austin Abrams) college touring trip, Brad Sloan (Stiller) suddenly has a mid-life crisis sprung upon him. He wonders if he made the right decision living modestly in the suburbs with his family while running a nonprofit charity organization. He starts to feel insecure about how his college friends ended up more successful and happier with their lives. He’s even feeling self-conscious over his son possibly being more gifted than he is.
Jenna Fischer plays Brad’s wife, while Michael Sheen, Luke Wilson and Jemaine Clement appear as Brad’s old friends. Brad’s Status is written and directed by Mike White, and is essentially another piece on a middle-aged man’s neurosis over being past his youth. But this time it refreshingly focuses on his relationships with friends and his son, rather than having the lead just hook up with a much younger woman, which has become such a cliché in this genre. Brad’s Status is quaint and light-hearted, with some fine performances from Stiller and Abrams.