Posts Tagged ‘Jenna Fischer’

BRAD’S STATUS: 3 STARS. “Dissatisfaction, thy name is Brad.”

Dissatisfaction, thy name is Brad.

At once both an investigation in obsession and white male privilege, “Brad’s Status” stars Ben Stiller as a man who cannot help but compare himself to his more successful friends. “I have a creeping fear that not only have I not lived up to my expectations,” he says, “but have disappointed others as well.”

Brad Sloan is a husband, father and the owner of a non-profit organization that helps people in need. It’s a comfortable Sacramento life, comfortable but, according to Brad, unremarkable. Lately his head has been filled with thoughts of his college years when, “I was in love with the world and it was in love with me.” The difference between then and now? “The world hates me and the feeling is mutual.”

He must confront his feelings of inadequacy when he and his musical prodigy son Troy (Austin Abrams) tour colleges in Boston. Harvard seems sure to accept the teenager until a mix up in the dates delays Troy’s admissions interview. Determined to reschedule the meeting Brad has to swallow his pride and call his wealthy friends for help.

Contacting Billy Wearslter (Jemaine Clement), a rich guy who lives with two girlfriends in Hawaii, best-selling author and DC powerhouse Craig Fisher (Michael Sheen) and billionaire playboy Jason Hatfield (Luke Wilson) gets the job done but forces Brad further down the rabbit hole of inadequacy.

“Brad’s Status” is a character study of a man who complains about being ignored at dinner parties because he isn’t rich. Stiller is very good—he’s always at his best when in movies that don’t feature statues that come to life—at bringing Brad’s neurosis to vivid life, but what years ago would have been thought of as a mid-life crisis movie is now a story of male privilege, ripe with first world problems. In other words, it’s hard to feel particularly sorry for a character whose self-pity overrides the good things in his life. Stiller keeps him relatable, from his petty frustration at a useless silver airlines status card to his deep seeded jealousy of everyone from his successful friends to his talented son, but early on you sense the story is only headed in one direction.

I don’t want to give anything away so I’ll put a [SPOILER ALERT] here, but it turns out that Brad doesn’t have it so bad after all. There is poignancy to the story by times but the lesson—never judge a person by the private jet—is too slight, too obvious to make any lasting impression.

As a laundry list of Brad’s existential questions “Brad’s Status” doesn’t delve deep enough to provide any real answers, no matter how good the performances.


Hall-Pass-Logo-5-11-10-kc“Hall Pass” can’t rightly be called a romantic comedy because there is very little actual romance contained in its story of two couples who are experiencing the martial blahs. Instead let’s call it a mid life comedy.

In this Farrelly Brothers film Owen Wilson, Jenna Fischer, Jason Sudeikis and Christina Applegate are Rick, Maggie, Fred and Grace, two long time couples in stale, sexless marriages. After an embarrassing incident at a friend’s home the fed up wives decide to give their husbands a “hall pass”—a week long holiday from marriage in an effort to prove to them that the grass is not greener on the other side of the nuptial fence.

The kind of gross out humor you would expect from the purveyors of films like “There’s Something about Mary” and “Dumb and Dumber” is firmly in place here. Unfortunately “Hall Pass” isn’t anywhere near as funny as either “Mary” or “Dumber”—even though the Farrely’s obsession with overly tanned people is firmly in place—but as puerile as it may be the charming cast wrings whatever humor there is to be found out of the script. Because of them the movie has a fairly constant ripple of giggles punctuated occasionally by big laughs.

It’s a thin premise, stretched almost to breaking, with a moral—surprise, surprise, single life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be—that seems very predictable, especially coming from the Farrelys. Luckily good casting and the odd well timed joke elevates “Hall Pass” from the level of a Katherine Heigl couples comedy, but just barely.