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Mar 14, 2018

Brad's Status

It faintly felt like a male version of Eat Pray Love. Instead of traipsing all over the globe to find meaning, thoughts and prayers, we have greying-at-the-temples Ben Stiller staring his mid-life crisis in the face, in puritan Boston. The male version is a lot less shallow and lot more relate-able (even for women like me.)

Unlike the stereotypical male crises that happen at this age there are no red sports cars or barely-twenty-year-old blondes involved. The hero (Brad, played by Stiller) is seen by his son's side while the high-schooler navigates his Ivy League college interviews. The kid seems chill and extremely well-behaved whereas the Dad is broody and mulling over his self-worth. Together they make a quiet pair in a quiet movie which does not offer or proffer to offer the viewer any instantaneous self-help solutions at the end.

In order to counter-balance the fifty year old's self indulgent voice-overs questioning his self-esteem, the narrative introduces a virtuous young millennial - Ananya, with roots in the third world. Of course I know these third-worlders (I live inside the head of one), the kind who have never really encountered poverty or discrimination, but could blurt out statistics like how an entire family of fellow third worlders in Delhi survive on a dollar a day budget or how their grand-father walked 26.2 miles to school each day. So we have Ananya, a high school friend of Brad's son deployed to put Brad in his place by reminding him that even at his age he still thinks the world is made for him. How very childish of him. The film-makers understand a lot of Brad's worries are trivial and frivolous. Through Ananya they let us know that they acknowledge and have duly noted it. But a fifty year old with low self esteem behaves in a certain way, there is no helping it, nor are there any answers to it.

This movie can be appreciated if you are over a certain age. The way I look at it, I am cresting that hill or 'am over that hill by now (depending on the camera angle) - so I could understand what the movie is trying to tell. Not many reviewers could. I would blame it on their later arrival on terra-firma, but be patient, you will get there too.