Brad's Status

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Brad's Status Movie Poster Image
Quirky dramedy has great acting, plus language, drinking.
  • R
  • 2017
  • 101 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

Encourages strong parent-child relationships, moving beyond jealousy/envy, and finding value in the people you love and in what you've accomplished rather than what you don't have. Also promotes acknowledging your privilege before complaining about how difficult life is for you.

Positive role models & representations

Brad, despite all of his neuroses, does love his family. Melanie is an attentive, loving mother. Troy is intelligent, perceptive, and talented.

Violence
Sex

A man says he lives with two beautiful Hawaiian women ("wahine") and that they have a "fluid" sexual relationship (i.e., they spend their time surfing and having sex in his Maui home). Another man daydreams about having two young lovers rather than his wife. He has a temporary crush on two young women.

Language

Many uses of "f--k," "f---ing," "s--t," "a--hole," "d--k," "goddamn," "Jesus," etc.

Consumerism

Apple, Dodge.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Adults (including some barely 21-year-old college students) drink cocktails and wine. A couple of characters smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Brad's Status is a dramedy starring Ben Stiller as a neurotic dad who's cripplingly envious of his rich and famous college friends. Part father-son travel comedy, part midlife-crisis drama, this Mike White film has mature themes, strong language ("f--k," 's--t," "d--ks," etc.), and sexual innuendo, conversation, and daydreams. All of the characters swear, including the father to the son and the son to the father, and a married man has an internal monologue about what his life would be like if he could have younger lovers. Characters also drink (wine, cocktails) and smoke. Parents with teens approaching college should be able to use the movie to discuss with their children expectations, hopes, and dreams.

User Reviews

Parent of a 18+ and 18+ year old Written byrspar October 9, 2017

Brad's bummer

Slow, boring, depressing you expect it eventually will end on an upbeat but it didn't. A monotone movie and at the end doesn't tell you anything.
Kid, 12 years old October 1, 2017

Terrible, Epic Parenting fail on my moms side

You know what, there's no hardcore violence, sex, or anything, just 20 f bombs and way to much maturity for kids 0-16. In my opinion, 2 words describe it,...

What's the story?

In BRAD'S STATUS, Ben Stiller plays Brad Sloan of Sacramento, a 47-year-old nonprofit director who can't help but compare himself unfavorably to his more financially successful friends from college. Despite having a loving wife, Melanie (Jenna Fischer), and talented son, Troy (Austin Abrams), Brad constantly struggles with feelings of inadequacy because he doesn't own a private jet like hedge-fund manager Jason (Luke Wilson), hasn't retired to Hawaii like Billy (Jemaine Clement), and isn't a rich filmmaker like Nick (Mike White) or a famous political pundit like Craig (Michael Sheen). Brad's envy and guilt are heightened when he and Troy, a high school senior, head East to tour colleges in the Boston area, including Harvard and Brad's alma mater, Tufts. When Brad needs a favor from one of his old friends, he nearly becomes unhinged with a sense that everyone else in their group is exceptional, while he's mediocre.

Is it any good?

Writer-director White specializes in over-analytical, self-loathing souls who have trouble dealing with their lives, and Stiller does a brilliant job playing the chronically unsatisfied Brad. It's hard to humanize someone unlikable, but Stiller manages the feat with a subtle performance that doesn't turn Brad into a complete sad sack. Most viewers will be able to relate to someone who feels a little bit of envy or even preoccupation with wondering whether they made the right choices, but Stiller's ability to reveal the depth of Brad's neuroses without turning him into a caricature is amazing. Brad's constant navel-gazing goes from amusing to eye-rolling to cringe-worthy, then back to amusing -- and so on.

Also impressive is the nuanced performance by Abrams, who plays Brad's son, Troy. Troy also has his share of stressors (what over-achieving high school senior isn't stressed?), but he isn't suffering from a "nervous meltdown" like his moody father. A talented young actor known for his work on The Walking Dead and Paper Towns, Abrams has a great scene in which Troy gives a wonderful little speech about his love for his father. There are also standout supporting performances from Sheen, who plays a breezily egotistical power broker, and Shazi Raja as an idealistic Harvard junior named Ananya. She, at 21, says exactly what most viewers are probably thinking about Brad -- that he's "just fine" and that he "has enough" but just can't see it because he's too fixated on what he doesn't possess.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Brad's Status' messages about gratitude. Instead of feeling grateful, Brad is envious. How do jealousy and envy affect him?

  • Ananya says that Brad is stuck in a place of privilege and actually has "enough" but doesn't realize it. Do you agree with her? Why do you think Brad feels the way he does?

  • Do you think that financial riches and fame are the best or only measures of success? What are other ways to feel "rich" or fulfilled?

  • What do you think of Brad and Troy's relationship? Is it an example of a strong father-son connection?

Movie details

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