One of the many great films I saw at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival was writer-director Mike White’s Brad’s Status. The dramedy stars Ben Stiller as a middle-aged man working for a non-profit who suffers something of a mid-life crisis while accompanying his musical prodigy son (Austin Abrams) on a tour of Harvard. While from the outside Stiller’s got a loving wife (Jenna Fischer) and a great life, he’s actually miserable. And the main reason is that he keeps comparing himself to his old college friends (Luke Wilson, Michael Sheen, Jemaine Clement and Mike White) who appear to be far more successful via their social media feeds. As the film unfolds, we hear Stiller’s character’s inner voice wondering about the choices he’s made and the envy as he watches his friends from afar. While this inner voiceover could have been a disaster, because of Mike White’s fantastic script, you start to understand his jealously even when his life looks perfect. Also, while most don’t say it aloud, I think everyone at one point has wondered about the choices they’ve made after they’ve seen friends get ahead in the rat race and thought “why not me?” It’s that kind of emotional honestly in the film and script that will cause many to look inward.
Shortly after seeing the film I sat down with Ben Stiller and Austin Abrams for an exclusive video interview. They talked about Mike White’s fantastic script, how it tackles subject matter most movies avoid, the way the dialogue and situations feel authentic and real, and a lot more. In addition, Stiller reveals he’s a few days into filming his next directing project, Escape at Dannemora, which is an upcoming Showtime series.
Check out what they had to say in the player above and below is what we talked about followed by the official synopsis. For more on Brad’s Status you can read Phil Brown’s glowing review.
Ben Stiller and Austin Abrams:
- They talk about their reaction to reading the script and how it’s not something you usually see in a movie.
- How the dialogue and situations feel authentic and real. Was it all in the script or did they find some of it on set?
- How as a society we don’t talk about a lot of the things the film talks about.
- Ben talks about how he is currently directing a miniseries at Showtime.
Here’s the Brad’s Status official synopsis:
When Brad Sloan (Ben Stiller) accompanies his college bound son to the East Coast, the visit triggers a crisis of confidence in Brad’s Status, writer and director Mike White’s bittersweet comedy. Brad has a satisfying career and a comfortable life in suburban Sacramento where he lives with his sweet-natured wife, Melanie (Jenna Fischer), and their musical prodigy son, Troy (Austin Abrams), but it’s not quite what he imagined during his college glory days. Showing Troy around Boston, where Brad went to university, he can’t help comparing his life with those of his four best college friends: a Hollywood bigshot (White), a hedge fund founder (Luke Wilson), a tech entrepreneur (Jemaine Clement), and a political pundit and bestselling author (Michael Sheen). As he imagines their wealthy, glamorous lives, he wonders if this is all he will ever amount to. But when circumstances force him to reconnect with his former friends, Brad begins to question whether he has really failed or is, in some ways at least, the most successful of them all.