Brad Sloan (Ben Stiller) runs his own non-profit organization, and lives a comfortable life with his loving wife and son, but cannot help contemplating how his old friends Craig Fisher (Michael Sheen), Billy Wearslter (Jemaine Clement), Jason Hatfield (Luke Wilson), and Nick Pascale (Mike White) are rich and accomplished. Craig works in the White House and published a best-selling book; Jason owns a hedge fund firm; Billy sold a company he founded, moved to Maui, and retired; and Nick is a Hollywood director. Brad's wife, Melanie (Jenna Fischer), tries to comfort Brad, telling him that they do not need to compare themselves with the wealthiest 1%..
Gore Vidal notoriously said, "Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies," which could be this movie's subtitle. Interesting subject matter I think, but this movie could have used more of an outright plot. Whether I'm right or not, this movie had the feel of having been written with a vague direction in mind but no structured outline set down beforehand. (The long bar conversation with the big-brown-eyed girl kind of came out of nowhere and I suspect did, to the writer as he sat at his laptop.) Ben Stiller was okay, but I felt his regular (facial) expressions of resentment could have used more variety and nuance. Knowing both ends of: not thrilling at running into people as I puttered along with nothing to brag about, to suddenly being put in charge of huge projects covered in the international press that suddenly made me the star of dinner parties, I found this an interesting movie, but wanted more of a story than a collection of vignettes. (For those who liked them, this movie I felt could almost go together as a sort loose trilogy with Stiller's GREENBERG and PERMANENT MIDNIGHT.)
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