Tag Archives: Ben Stiller

“Brad’s Status”

LOUISA: 2 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

A father (Ben Stiller) who feels like a failure takes his son (Austin Abrams) on a tour of colleges in “Brad’s Status,” a sad sack, mopey, first person narrative film that wallows in self pity and doubt. If you think this doesn’t sound like a fun night at the movies, you’d be correct. This whiny, unpleasant film has writer / director Mike White written all over it, and this project serves as a mirror of his persona.

You can’t feel much else other than contempt for Stiller’s unpleasant, wholly unlikable character, Brad. He ignores his optimistic, cheerfully devoted wife (Jenna Fischer), and feels grossly inadequate with his nice house and nice car and his comfortable middle class lifestyle.

Instead of enjoying and living life, Brad constantly compares himself to his more successful college friends, including a retired tech entrepreneur (Jemaine Clement), a powerful political pundit (Michael Sheen), a Hollywood big shot (White), and a hedge fund manager (Luke Wilson). As Brad imagines their glamorous lives, he fails to appreciate his own. This comes off as some privileged white guy whining about not having supermodel girlfriends and a mountain of money. He still doesn’t have enough and longs for more: more money, more women, more success.

Brad’s insecurity manifests as a mid-life pity party that begins when his son starts looking at colleges and making plans for his bright future. Brad whines — a lot — about the loss of promise, ambition, and limitless expectations that are a by-product of having your entire life ahead of you. He gripes about how meaningless his life is and how awful the world has become. Cynicism and resentment control his life.

White’s direction is straightforward and boring, and the screenplay relies on the overuse of voiceover as a crutch. Brad’s internal monologue is lazily conveyed through narration that gets insufferably irritating about five minutes in.

There’s nothing bittersweet about this story, it’s not funny, and it’s one of those films that makes you feel bad when you exit the theater.

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“Zoolander 2”

LOUISA:  1.5 STARS    MATT:    2 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

The fact that this sequel exists is more insulting than anything else: insulting to audiences everywhere because it’s not worth you wasting one second of your time on watching it. Nothing more than an endless parade of very unfunny celebrity cameos, “Zoolander 2” is a long, boring and tedious gimmick that simply doesn’t work. Why did the world even need a sequel to “Zoolander”? It’s one of the worst excuses for a ‘comedy’ ever made, and part 2 isn’t any better.

Instead of having a good script, it feels like director / star Ben Stiller just sat around a called up all of his Hollywood friends to cast them in his movie so they could pal around on the set. This movie feels as old and lame as the t-shirts that Hansel (Owen Wilson) and Derek (Stiller) wear during one of the (many) gags that don’t work. There’s no satire, no quotable lines, no humor and no redeeming qualities to this movie. Will Ferrell (Mugatu), Kristen Wiig (Alexanya), and Penelope Cruz (Valentina) are squandered, and any film that dares waste Wilson qualifies as a crime against movies in general.

Shame on the talented cast who wasted their time with this junk. And please don’t waste yours.

MATT SAYS:

I’ve watched the original “Zoolander” several times over the years in an unsuccessful attempt to understand the appeal of that movie. In my view, the original film is boring and not at all funny. Perhaps I just don’t get all of the jokes about the fashion industry. Maybe I don’t “get” Will Ferrell‘s character Mugatu. It’s possible that there are sight gags that I just miss entirely. The more likely answer, however, is that I just don’t have the same sense of humor as the legion of “Zoolander” lovers.

If you’re one of them, the true-believing passionate fans of the original “Zoolander,” then take this with a grain of salt: “Zoolander 2” is slightly funnier than its predecessor, which isn’t saying much.

There are some funny sight gags and running jokes. Some of the cameos of celebrities and fashion designers are enjoyable. And it’s great to see so much of one of my favorite cities in the world, Rome. Also, the movie didn’t bore me. Beyond that faint praise, there isn’t much to recommend here. Most of the fashion-industry jokes fall flat; the has-been vs. current storyline lacks heart and direction; the ironic, sarcastic hipster character who says ironic, sarcastic hipster things just doesn’t work on any level (I’m not laughing because your references and jokes aren’t funny, not because I didn’t get them).

If you’re a huge fan of the original movie, you may want to check this one out, but wait until you can watch it at home.