Ben Stiller stars an anxious middle age father in BEN'S STATUS, a new film that contains a few scenes that were shot on Oahu. Stiller plays Brad, an upper middle class man who envies his more successful friends and wishes he had more money and status. He's even jealous of his son, a talented young man who's about to go to college.
What I really like about this film is that it's closer to the reality we all live in than most Hollywood films, and the acting is top notch.
Brad (voice over): That night my mind drifted back to college. So many friends who've become successful: Craig Fisher worked for the White House. Jason Hatfield has his own hedge fund. Billy Worster sold his tech company at 40. What do I have? I work for a non profit and have nothing to show for it.
For much of the film, we hear Brad's thoughts as voice over, and even though his self absorption is annoying and his values are distorted, I couldn't completely dislike him even when he's bugging his wife about what they might inherit when her parents die.
Melanie: We have a great life. Go to sleep.
Brad: I think you should talk to your parents though, get some clarity.
Brad takes his son, Troy, a talented musician very well played by Austin Abrams, from their home in Sacramento to the Boston area where he hopes to go to college.
Brad: These are competitive schools, Troy. Just try not to put too much pressure on yourself.
Troy: My counselor thinks I'll get into pretty much everywhere I apply.
Brad: My kids goin' to Harvard.
Troy: Don't jinx me dude.
A female friend of Troy's puts Brad in his place.
Brad: Do I seem jaded to you? I started out as idealistic as any of your friends over there.
Ananya: You're 50 years old and you still think that the world was made for you.
Brad: I'm 47.
The satisfying irony in this father-son relationship is that the son is both wiser and calmer than his dad.
Troy: Dad, are you having an nervous breakdown or something?
Brad: Sometimes I worry that people think of me as a failure.
Troy: Everybody's just thinking about themselves. The only person that's thinking about you is me.
BRAD'S STATUS is a strong reminder of what's really important in our lives and what's not.