Among the plethora of comedy stars who came up in the 1990s and have continued to mature in the following years, Ben Stiller might be both the most ambitious and the most fascinating overall. Whereas, say, Adam Sandler has spent the glut of his career making movies that are made mainly to entertain fart and diarrhea enthusiasts, Stiller went the opposite route and stuck mostly to movies aimed squarely at children following his breakthrough work in There’s Something About Mary, the Godfather of gross-out comedies. If you were going to ask me if I’d rather watch innocuous drivel like Night at the Museum or a wholesale headache the likes of Blended or That’s My Boy, I’d happily suffer a tiny Owen Wilson and a stampeding CGI dinosaur skeleton.
More importantly, Stiller has produced a number of near-masterworks since the 1990s, including Greenberg, While We’re Young, The Royal Tenenbaums, Zoolander, and Tropic Thunder. He also directed the last two and had a great cameo in Michael Winterbottom‘s delightful The Trip. He’s currently wrapping up work on the next film by Noah Baumbach, who helmed Greenberg and While We’re Young, but word is already coming up about his next promising project. Stiller is now in final negotiations to star in Brad’s Status, a new comedy written and to be directed by the talented Mike White, who wrote Richard Linklater‘s excellent School of Rock. The film centers on the titular man’s obsession with everyone else’s good fortune over his own, a jealousy that comes to a head while he tours college with his son. Sidney Kimmel Entertainment will be financing and producing the film with Brad Pitt’s Plan B.
Considering White’s long list of strong credits, including Judd Apatow‘s Freaks & Geeks and HBO’s hugely undervalued Enlightened, this could end up being an openly emotional and hilarious kind of character study, in the same vein as his directorial debut, Year of the Dog, and his script for The Good Girl. On the other hand, the story has some similarities to Stiller’s self-indulgent, toothless adaptation of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Like most of Stiller’s filmography, Brad’s Status could either be astonishingly insightful or aggravatingly safe, depending on a number of factors that we will be learning about in the next month or so, before the movie begins production in September.
Here’s the initial synopsis for Brad’s Status via the press release:
The film centers around Brad, who despite a good career and happy family, is obsessed with the better fortunes of his old friends from school. While escorting his son on an East Coast tour of colleges, Brad is forced to confront his friends and his feelings of failure – with hilarious and poignant results.