The uniquely privileged problem of status anxiety is the ill that afflicts Ben Stiller’s Brad in Mike White’s Brad’s Status. In the social media era, aren’t we all just chasing the idyllic lives our friends and family present to the world on a daily basis? But relying on the creatively edited posts of social media to set a yardstick against which to measure success is a fool’s errand. And as Brad takes his son, Troy (a revelatory Austin Abrams) on a college tour, leaving his loving, supportive wife, Melanie (Jenna Fischer) at home, he comes to realize that perhaps success is defined by more than personal achievement.
I caught up with Stiller this week in Toronto, as White, Abrams and Fischer additionally stopped by Deadline’s studio to discuss the film. “I wrestle with it all the time,” said Fischer, before implausibly adding, “like there was a party and I wasn’t invited to it, but I wouldn’t want to go anyway.”
“It feels like everyone’s winning the lottery around you and your friends are curating their lives on social media to the maximum amount of envy creation,” said White. “It felt like that was a ripe topic for unpacking in a movie.”
“It’s one of those things that, until you look at it, you don’t really think about it all that much,” noted Stiller. “People who are free of that… seem like they’re usually happier in life.”
Check out more from White and the cast in the video above.
Deadline Studio at TIFF 2017 is presented by Calii Love, Watford Group, Philosophy Canada, and Equinox. Special thanks to Dan Gunam at Calii Love for location and production assistance; and Ontario Camera for equipment assistance. Video producer: Meaghan Gable; lighting and camera: Neil Hansen; design: Dialla Kawar; sound recording: Ida Jokinen.