Ben Stiller stars as Brad whose satisfying career, sweet wife and comfortable life in suburban Sacramento aren't quite what he imagined during his college glory days. When he accompanies his musical prodigy son on a university tour, he can't help comparing his life with those of his four best college friends who seemingly have more wealthy and glamorous lives. But when circumstances force him to reconnect with his former friends, Brad begins to question whether he has really failed or if their lives are actually more flawed than they appear.
Filmmaker Mike White has certainly made a name for himself in the movie business. He got started with his awkward, yet brilliant film Chuck & Buck, but also went on to work on more recognized films such as The School of Rock and the HBO series Enlightened. White has always had a great eye and mind for awkward characters and the situations that they put themselves into -- while they try and find who they really are with a heavy dose of dry comedy. All of this comes to play in his most recent endeavor, Brad's Status, starring Ben Stiller in perhaps one of his best roles in recent memory as a man named Brad who struggles to be happy with his life as he takes his son to look at Ivy League Universities.
Narrated by Ben Stiller as he gives us his thoughts on what he thinks his life should be like and what it actually is, Brad is married to the beautiful Melanie (Jenna Fischer) and lives in a good house with a genius son who hopes to go to Harvard. It's a little slice of heaven as Brad operates a non-profit company that helps people. His mind gets the better of him in terms of not having enough money to send his son to school and retire later in life. Brad talks about his friends from college who are all either multi-millionaires or even billionaires now, living the seemingly great life, which Brad lusts after.
As Brad and his son (Austin Abrams) head to the East Coast, you can tell they have a fun and great relationship with mutual respect for one another. It's a very realistic portrayal of a father and son. Brad thinks he is a failure because he doesn't have a yacht or private plane like his old college friends do now. It all seems like first-world problems for sure, and people call him out on this, but along the way, director Mike White shows in a great way how Brad is wrong. I'm sure many people have similar thoughts as Brad, when they're not happy with their stations in life, but it's deeply satisfying when Brad realizes this.
White uses his dry sense of humor and solid emotional beats that mix well for a very charming film about family and being happy. Stiller is great in his role and gives a performance that we haven't seen in a long time from him. He truly shines as the middle-aged father who is trying to find his way and look cool while doing it. Brad's Status is a light-hearted movie that warms the heart and delivers a great performance from Stiller.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
Brad's Status comes with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc from Universal and is Region A Locked. There is an insert for a digital download code here. The disc is housed in a hard, blue plastic case. A couple of trailers play before the main menu.
Brad's Status comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 2.00:1 aspect ratio. The image looks sharp and vivid in this digitally shot picture with great textures and bright colors. There are certain scenes, mainly inside buildings, bars, or a theater hall, where the color has a much warmer hue with oranges and yellow standing out more prominently. Other scenes look natural with great looking blues and greens. The scenes at Harvard showcase the bold colors of the old buildings and the beautifully landscaped lawns very well.
Primary colors are striking, too. Black levels are deep and inky throughout with zero evidence of any crush. The detail reveals facial pores nicely and stubble on certain actor's faces, along with individual gray hairs on Ben Stiller's head. big wool coats and other wardrobe show stitching and imperfections well. There is some minor video noise in some lower-lit scenes, but other than that, this video presentation is in top shape.
This release has a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and sounds great for a dialogue driven comedy-drama film. There isn't a ton of reasons for big explosions or gunshots here, meaning the surrounds and rear speakers don't get a lot of attention. It's mostly used when the two main characters are in crowded places with some great ambient sounds. When the scene takes place in an airport or bar, the surrounds pick up all the background chatter and footsteps very well, and provide some reverb when at the airport over the intercom.
The score always adds to the charm and comedy of the film, along with a symphony performance at the end of the movie, which lights up the whole soundscape. Dialogue is clear and easy to follow along with, and is free of pops, cracks, hiss, and shrills. Lastly, there isn't a ton of bass in the film, but when certain music moments sound off, we hear a smooth and satisfying low end.
Brad's Status is surprisingly heartwarming story that has a meaningful and endearing point told in a comedic way. This is made in part by a great script and a wonderful performance by Ben Stiller, along with the assortment of comedic actors throughout the film. I really loved it. The video and audio presentation are both great for the type of movie this is, but the extras are all short and very standard EPK fluff that doesn't amount to much. Still, this one comes Recommended for those looking for an uplifting, feel-good film.