Brad Sloan (Ben Stiller) is 47 years old, living in Sacramento, married to Melanie (Jenna Fischer) with a high school son, Troy (Austin Abrams) who is getting ready to interview for colleges. It seems Troy is a pianist and has a choice of any school out there with his sights set on Harvard. His father Brad graduated from Tufts and after some failed attempts at success, so to speak, he started up his own non-profit.
Brad had a great group of friends when he was younger and all had aspirations of making it big in the real world after college graduation. Craig Fisher (Michael Sheen) went on to work in the white house, on television and a well-known author on top of that with a head too big to fit in a door. Billy Wearslter (Jemaine Clement) sold his company and now lives in Hawaii with two young island girls yet is barely sober. Jason Hatfield (Luke Wilson) is living off a hedge fund with his own company jet and beautiful family but was it all legal! Nick Pascale (Mike White) is a famous Hollywood producer living high off the gay life with his new husband, huge Architectural Digest mansion, lots of men and a personality full of flames if you get my drift. They have not spoken with Brad in some time and even though they all got together for Nick’s wedding Brad was never invited. Makes one ask themselves if they are truly in love with the world. But is the world what you think it is? Are the people in it who you think they are? Are they happy? Are you?
Brad questions everything about his life why his friends all moved on to wealth and fame and he just moved, to Sacramento. He has a nice home, a loving wife and a brilliant son but is that enough for Brad? Should it be? Considering it is not about his life now but more so his son Troy’s and helping him to find direction and purpose that is what should really matter. When Brad and Troy arrive in Boston for an interview at Harvard they meet up for dinner with some of Troy’s friends, one in particular, Ananya (Shazi Raja) who has a long conversation with Brad, helping to shed some light if only for a moment about life and the act of comparison and competition.
Are friends in life true friends or are they bonded only through a level of success? Brad finds out how to answer that question when he asks a favor of Craig while in Boston. Yet this is not only Brad’s issue it seems to be that of the world. One can still love the world yet never possess it! Why do we conform to other people’s opinions or beliefs rather than be happy within our own? No matter if you’re rich or poor, young or old, if you go to Harvard, Yale or Tufts in the end just be happy you’re still alive.
I must say this movie was extremely depressing in one sense but on the other it was thought provoking. As for someone in their fifties that is questioning the meaning of life this film is spot on. Great direction and brilliant writing with a small cast that are all excellent this story will have you questioning who you are and how you ended up where you are. It would be a great film for college kids to see although I do not think they will and as for the baby boomers out there let’s just say I hope you don’t drive off a bridge on the way home. No matter if you’re rich or poor we all question life to some degree and the absolute meaning of what matters in life and if it truly makes you happy. This film will take you to the edge and make you evaluate your purpose, your position, your place in this world and it may depress you or it just may leave you wondering I’m better off than most. I don’t see this film making a lot of money at the box office but for those out for an intellectual story you may find it interesting or at least thought provoking.