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When Brad Sloan (Ben Stiller) accompanies his college bound son to the East Coast, the visit triggers a crisis of confidence in Brad's Status, writer and director Mike White's bittersweet comedy. Brad 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 this is all he will ever amount to. But when circumstances force him to reconnect with his former friends, Brad begins to question whether he has really failed or is, in some ways at least, the most successful of them all.
• 3½ stars out of four •
Calvin Wison / St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Brad’s Status” is a smart, perceptive and poignant comedy-drama about the American obsession with success — and the toll it can take on one’s soul. Working from his own screenplay, director White (HBO’s “Enlightened”) has crafted a film that couldn’t possibly be timelier — and elicited a fine performance from Stiller in the process.
Often appreciated solely as a funnyman, the star of comedies such as “There’s Something About Mary” and “Meet the Parents” has matured into an actor of depth and subtlety without sacrificing his gift for provoking belly laughs. And indeed, his work in this film ranks with his best.
This is the rare mainstream film that addresses the complexities of real life. “Brad’s Status” may motivate you to question your own.
A couple's relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.
• 3½ stars out of four •
Cavlin Wilson / St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“mother!” is just the sort of exercise in psychological horror that you’d expect from writer-director Darren Aronofsky, whose most famous and commercially successful film is “Black Swan.” Clearly, Aronofsky aims for arthouse respect as well as box-office appeal, and with his latest film he’s likely to achieve qualified success on both counts.
Lawrence and Bardem are on board with the director’s go-for-it sensibility, turning in courageous and committed performances that deftly negotiate the shifting phantasmagorical terrain. And Pfeiffer, Harris and the Gleesons make the most of their screen time.
Naysayers will no doubt argue that “mother!” is an incomprehensible mess. But as sheer visceral filmmaking, it’s a must-see. If you’re looking for meaning, read a book.
An understated and wonderful St. Louis gem, the Hi-Pointe Theatre was built in 1922 at the incredible intersection of Interstate 64, Clayton Road, Clayton Avenue, McCausland Avenue, Forest Avenue, Oakland Avenue and Skinker Boulevard, today also the home of the world’s largest Amoco sign and just at the southwest corner of Forest Park. Continue Reading