Luke Wilson

Film Review: Brad’s Status

by Carrie Kahn on September 22, 2017

A midlife crisis worth watching: Stiller shines in funny and poignant story  

Brad (Ben Stiller, l.) reflects on his life while touring colleges with his son Troy (Austin Abrams). 

Ben Stiller, who can play middle-age angst like no one else (see While We’re Young, for example), is in fine form in writer/director Mike White’s new film Brad’s Status. Although the film’s premise about a soon-to-be-50 straight white man facing an existential crisis as he grapples with his life choices may sound like the epitome of naval-gazing white privilege, the picture touches on some universal themes with sensitivity and wry humor, thanks in large part to Stiller’s well-tuned performance and White’s sharp screenplay (White is perhaps best known for the 2000 cult hit Chuck and Buck and this year’s social satire Beatriz at Dinner).
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At the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco, I sit with a group of other writers around a table as the audible antics begin approaching outside the door.  SNL veterans Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, along with director Craig Johnson, are splitting each others’ sides with jokes and voices.  They are tired and somewhat giddy from a day of press, supporting their incredible new film, The Skeleton Twins, and they loosely greet us with smiles and how ya dos.  Bill chucks a muffin from that morning down the hallway, comically screaming ‘This BETTER BE GOOD!’.  Bill and Kristen feed off each other’s energy, a polite and friendly Craig Johnson between them, and they all take a deep breath and search around the table for who’s first to dive in…

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Craig, you co-wrote the script with Mark Heyman, and I heard he’d been working on the script for eight years.  How did the final cut of the film differentiate from the original script?

Craig Johnson:  Well, we actually had a couple versions of it that were unfinished that were all over the place.  We had one where Milo was a drag queen. (To Bill) I haven’t even told you about these versions of it.  There was a road trip element.

Kristen Wiig: Maggie was a cat. (laughing)

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