An Excerpt From the Sequel to Mike White’s Brad’s Status

An excerpt from the screenplay to Mike White’s forthcoming sequel to Brad’s Status, under the working title Get the &%#$ Over Yourself, Brad:

FADE IN:

INT. BRAD’S DEN – NIGHT

BRAD slumps in his sofa, staring morosely at his TV as the end credits of Mike White’s movie Brad’s Status scroll past. An array of remote controls are on a coffee table.

BRAD (V/O):

I was watching Brad’s Status, the movie Mike White made about me, but all I had to eat today was Pringles so I tried to pause it go grab a snack. But I accidentally clicked the regular TV remote instead of the AppleTV remote, and my system got all fouled up. I thought about how my more successful friends never use the wrong remote. I saw a copy of Middle Aged Bro Digest at a dinner party, and it had this whole article on how rich people get beautiful young women and men in bathing suits to operate their remotes for them. And provide sex and cocaine too, I assume.

TV REMOTE:

Don’t drag me into your midlife crisis, Brad. Look, it’s not my fault if you click one of my buttons and nothing happens because I’m not even on. You’re only using the AppleTV because streaming movies online makes you feel younger and “with it”, but I remember when antennae and co-ax was all you had.

BRAD eats a Pringle.

BRAD (V/O):

I think the cable TV remote hates me. When I was younger, more virile and idealistic, I didn’t care what any of my gadgets thought about me. But then I realized that was before AppleTVs and DVRs and whatever were even invented, and I could just watch a movie without having to keep track of all this crap. But that just made me sadder as I pined for a simpler time when I played hacky sack on the quad all day, with friends that respected me. I’m such a sad pathetic failure.

APPLETV REMOTE:

Check your privilege, Mr. Patriarchy. I don’t see what we have to do with your feelings of inadequacy. You can’t even tell which way I’m facing, which let’s be honest, is a sign of your mental decline.

ROKU REMOTE:

Hi guys! Long time no see! I saw on Facebook that you’re having a fun-looking party on Brad’s coffee table. I guess you just forgot to invite me, which is OK. Or NBD, as the kids say, right AppleTV? I’m sure you’re all busy.

TV REMOTE:

Not now, Roku. And you shut the &%#$ up, AppleTV Remote. NOBODY can tell which way you’re facing. I saw your Instagram selfie, looking all clean and shiny in a sunbeam on Brad’s coffee table, when EVERYBODY knows you’re always covered in gross fingerprints and lost in the sofa cushions.

BRAD (aloud):

Well, to be honest, it’s true that I did only find the AppleTV remote because I was cringing so much during Brad’s Status that I practically sank into the sofa too.

ROKU REMOTE:

This is fun! Are you guys talking about Mike White? I was a little troubled by Year of the Dog, but I loved Enlightened, and thought Beatriz at Dinner was one of the best movies of the year until it kinda went off the rails in the last few minutes. Did you ever wonder that maybe White has a better feel for female characters than male?

APPLETV REMOTE:

Zip it, Roku! Look, how about we all go out and get so drunk we say really embarrassing stuff and give Mike White more material for his next movie?

TV REMOTE:

&%#$ off. It’s so cute that you think movies are made just for you.

FADE OUT

You can love your pets but not LOVE your pets in Mike White’s Year of the Dog

The Netflix queue is, by its nature, the opposite of the instant gratification of a rental store. You add movies you think you might want to see some day, then sit back and wait for them to arrive in an order decided by computer, according to factors and algorithms outside of your control. Enough time had passed since I added Year of the Dog that I could no longer recall why. Possibly I read a good review somewhere, or maybe I was curious about the sudden reappearance of Molly Shannon (part of “my” Saturday Night Live of the mid-90s — am I right that people feel the most affection for the SNL cast of their college years?). But I feel baited and switched; this is not a drama or romantic comedy but rather a movie with an agenda.

Writer/director Mike White’s Year of the Dog is a feature-length dramatization of Janeane Garofalo’s gag “You can love your pets, but you can’t love your pets.” Not unlike Lily in Eagle Vs. Shark, Peggy (Shannon) is a gentle sweetheart, but alienated and lonely. Her relationship with brother Pier (Thomas McCarthy from The Wire Season 5) and sister-in-law Bret (Laura Dern) is distant at best, and her closest friends are oblivious workmates.

Molly Shannon in Year of the Dog
This commute’s a bitch

When she loses the unconditional love of her dog Pencil, she becomes hungry for, as she puts it, a single word to define her. On a date with Al (John C. Reilly), Peggy demonstrates a dislike of hunting, the seed from which her new fervor for an animal activist lifestyle grows. Her one word, she decides, is to be “vegan.”

Her new life teases her at first with the possibility of love with Newt (Peter Sarsgaard), but he is too much like her, or what she might become: unable to love humans nearly as much as animals. From here, the tone shifts to the disturbing, as Peggy causes her life to fall apart. Her clumsy activism costs her her job and family, and she soon descends to theft and attempted murder.

Molly Shannon in Year of the Dog
You can love your pets, but you can’t LOVE your pets

And yet, the movie appears to present her ultimate state as a happy ending of sorts. She chooses to be friendless and unloved, but has found meaning and purpose. The most important part of the movie is missing: what happens between Peggy hitting rock bottom (where she becomes unable to function in society) and her total ascendance as a self-assured being? I don’t buy the sudden switcheroo that it’s all OK because she has discovered herself.

Would real-life animal activists find Peggy and Newt amusingly exaggerated versions of themselves, or insulting stereotypes? Even as I am the owner of two rescued casts, it strikes me that choosing the love of animals over that of people is a kind of mental illness that begs for correction, not celebration.