hopscotchee: ben stiller score: 50.5 rating: R time: 102 minutes
okay. guilty (hashtag asher angel)!! we thought this was called ben's status. like, we knew it was brad's status, but we kept mentioning it as ben's status. what a face palm that one was. anyhow, ben's status or brad's status, it's still the same. going into this film, we were prepared for an emoesh (pronounced /ˈēmōSH/ and meaning emotional) ben stiller drama. what we got was a little less. emoesh as it may have been in the hella cringe zone, the father-son storyline lacked the final "umphf" to the heart, likely being remembered for its awkward moments and add-ins than its message.
let's talk about the interesting cutaway sequences, where brad imagines multiple scenarios in his mind. on one side of the room, these cutaways allowed for brad's l o n g voice overs to not become wishy-washy and boring. they are quiet chunky, so choosing to cut to these hypothetical realities invited new interest to the screen. yet, on the other side, one could argue that this was one of the plot's only saving graces in entertainment. we are fully willing to except the idea that this film was not targeted to us. that they were going for a more 'parent-y' and reflecting type. but that would be a shame to rest the plot's responsiveness on a portion of its viewers. being that, in our opinion, the overall point of brad's status was....eh....a little vague. we understand that poor brad is going through a mid-life crisis (and possibly some undiagnosed depression), but the evolution of his character lacked a greater growth. for example, (spoiler) the movie starts before brad and troy's trip, but it doesn't end back at home. very, very, very knit picky, as we assume we are probably coming across right now, but this detail eliminates the 'full circle' attitude that most indie, small, or really any genre of movies possess. because of this, we are dropped into the credits with question marks.
additionally not helping the comprehension section of brad's status, the writer included a (spoiler) questionable one sided love story between brad and two college students. not being a surprise to find out that a guy wrote the screenplay, brad's rampant mind-infidelity loss track of the main theme. how are we suppose to give a flip about brad's mid-life crisis when his voice overs won't shut up about him, ananya, and maya on the perfume commercial beach with the white blousy button up. honestly, at that point, we are more concerned if brad's gonna f-up his marriage. and then there was all the back-and-forth with brad's fake-friends. are they who brad thinks they are?? are they nice?? do they have a private plane?? is brad the mean one just assuming?? oh, wait. they do have a private plane?? but brad's the a-hole?? wait, now we're confused. you see, the road for this story was simply just not paved well for its audience.
but that's not saying brad's status was non-committal. it had its attractive moments. like when brad is walking outside during the evening, and the environment and scenery around him (the perfectly dark yet brightly muted blue sky) is bringing us a relatable atmospheric feeling. or, for instance, when (spoiler) brad finally let's it out and cries at the concert. that's a wonderful 'yay ben' acting moment - obviously, minus-ing the voice over that comes in about him fantasizing about the girls one more time. and, lastly, austin abrams was an annoying teen, but a realistic one with his gurgle-mumble tone of voice. sure, he may be unseeable after his serial-killer-hbo-show-role, but the effort in his uncomfortableness of being a bystander in his dad's breakdown was competent.
so, what's brad's bio?? what were the takeaways?? brad is a pta-parent, and ananya was so right about her depiction of him. troy listened to dirrty by xtina a lot on his trip. he is also such a white boy, assuming that he can 'accidentally' forget his f-ing interview for f-ing harvard and still get in "just because". and the emoesh ben stiller film was not as emoesh and way more cringey than we expected. still, whether the land of steady habits was better or not (personal preference), let the message be: help out dads in crisis, so they don't get to brad's wacky and creepy level.
-- thanks, ben xo