Mike White’s current status is just fine, thank you for asking.
The Pasadena native has been writing up a storm lately, and the results hit theaters this year in everything from the acclaimed and controversial indie film “Beatriz at Dinner” to the not-acclaimed but rather popular “Emoji Movie” to the new “Brad’s Status,” which the sometime actor also directed.
That last one is also getting some good notices. It takes a character we’ve seen star Ben Stiller play before – a guy in the throes of a midlife crisis who doesn’t deal with it at all elegantly – to rich emotional depths and squirmily inventive, comic situations.
“I wanted to unpack the idea of how people come to a certain state of their lives and have a sense of comparative anxiety,” says White who, at 47, is the same age that his own father was when the two of them toured colleges for Mike, the memory of which forms the core of Stiller’s Brad Sloan and his teenage son Troy’s (played by “The Walking Dead’s” Austin Abrams) misadventures in the film.
“I find that’s more common than ever now because other people’s lives are so accessible through social media,” White continues. “I think we all share a general anxiety which is like, are people having more fun than me, do they have a cushier life than me, did I make the wrong choices? It feels more than ever like people are winning the lottery around you and it makes you have this kind of covetousness, potentially. So I wanted to unpack some of those feelings that I have sometimes, even though I’m pretty happy with who I am and my career and all of that. I think it’s just something that is natural.”
As Brad sets out with his easygoing, music prodigy son on their New England journey, his mind is racing, often in voiceover, with thoughts of how his Sacramento not-for-profit business is small potatoes compared to how his own college buddies’ careers and lives have worked out. Though happily married to the adorable Melanie (Jenna Fischer), he can’t help but envy the one who became a jet-setting hedge fund operator (Luke Wilson), an already retired tech gazillionaire who lives in Hawaii with two gorgeous young babes (Jemaine Clement), a political media superstar with high Washington connections (Michael Sheen) and a top Hollywood filmmaker (White himself).
The director filmed Brad’s imaginings of what his friends, who unsurprisingly have fallen out-of-touch with him, are up to…