In getting the inspiration for Brad’s Status’ screenplay, writer-director Mike White shares his thoughts on family, relationships, social media, and fears as one grows old in this Director’s Statement:
“I wanted to write something to tell my father I love him and think he is a success, even though he feels like he never lived up to his expectations for himself. I also saw with him that the relationship one has with the world (status) can be as important (or more) as the relationship one has to family, partners, friends. I see that in myself in that—like Brad—I’m always having this running commentary in my head, comparing myself to others and the success I perceive they have — and I’m always either building myself up or tearing myself down.”
“I thought movies rarely tackle this aspect of our lives in a relatable way. How our thoughts about ourselves cannibalize most of our time. And how much we feel is on the line all the time.”
“I also wanted to write about comparative anxiety in the culture at large. How we aren’t only keeping up with the Joneses, but are keeping up with the Kardashians; through TV and social media we are seeing the lifestyles of millionaires and billionaires and how it creates this sense of lack and envy. Everyone seems to be winning the lottery around us. And how in our consumer capitalist culture this desire to live these extreme lifestyles can be both personally painful and globally destructive.”
“Lastly, after writing Year of the Dog, Enlightened, and Beatriz at Dinner with female protagonists, I wanted to write a movie about men and their discontents, to do the midlife male crisis movie honestly — with some satirical teeth — but also compassion.”
Brad’s Status tells the story of Brad (Ben Stiller) who 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 cozy middle-class domesticity is the best he will ever achieve. But when circumstances force him to reconnect with his former friends, Brad begins to question whether he has really failed or if, in some essential ways, their lives are more flawed than they appear.
Opening across Philippine cinemas on October 18, 2017, ‘Brad’s Status’ is released and distributed by Solar Pictures.