Review: Search Party
PLOT: Two friends attempt to help their brokenhearted buddy try and get back together with the woman he was going to marrry.
REVIEW: There is so much talent involved in the new comedy SEARCH PARTY - - well not that new considering it was made in 2014. The cast features a ton of very funny people including T.J. Miller, Thomas Middleditch, Adam Pally, Alison Brie, Krysten Ritter, J.B. Smoove and Jason Mantzoukas. It’s a shame that they are wasted in a by-the-numbers comedic adventure. What is even more frustrating is that there is promise here thanks to the talent involved, even if we’ve seen this type of story before. Writer and first time feature film director Scot Armstrong (who co-wrote THE HANGOVER PART II, OLD SCHOOL and ROAD TRIP with Todd Phillips) is clearly dealing with familiar territiory. Sadly, the laughs are far and few between, aside from a couple of decent gags. Perhaps he borrows too much of what worked in the past so it essentially feels a bit dull and formulaic this time around.
The story begins with three best buddies getting high in their friends van. Thomas Middleditch is Nardo, who is about to be married to the love of his life Tracy (Shannon Woodward). However, like any groom-to-be, he has doubts which he mistakenly blurts out while smoking a blunt. When the big day arrives, his pal Jason (Miller) decides to tell the entire wedding party that she is not the right girl for Nardo. Suddenly the wedding is off, and Tracy goes on what would have been their honeymoon alone. Desperate to win her back, Nardo ends up in Mexico only to find himself alone, naked and carjacked. That leaves his rescue up to Jason and Evan (Pally) as they travel across the border in hopes of saving their buddy from who knows what. All the while, Evan is risking his job, as well as the respect he seeks from his lovely co-worker Elizabeth (Brie).
The script for SEARCH PARTY has a ton of could be hilarious moments that involved everything from being caught naked in public, the urban legend of kidney theft to the culture clash of dumb Americans facing off against dumb drug dealers in Mexico. The main theme that runs through the movie is they are all pretty dumb. In fact, the only reason our heroes don’t end up either dead, or close to it, is that everyone they face off with is just as incompetent. No matter how much charm the actors offer, it all feels like something we’ve seen much too often without adding anything new to the mix.
If you can credit anybody in this flick it is Thomas Middleditch who literally spends nearly the entire film naked. Talk about really throwing yourself in the role. You genuinely feel bad for the guy because his best buddy is kind of a selfish jerk and he is in peril near the entire film. His grim situation garners more pity than hilarity. As far as his friends are concerned, T.J. Miller does what he excels at, being kind of a lovable idiot. Pally is also good as the more grounded character. Had these three actors had something more to work with, we could've had quite the movie. Let’s not even get into the bizarre nature of Ritter and Mantzoukas characters! Try as they might, that entire sequence is a bit too grim and creepy to really inspire serious guffaws.
This is the type of movie that may very well appeal to some viewers if you happen to catch it on Netflix or a bargain matinee. After all, there have been far worse comedic films to come out recently, but that certainly doesn’t make this a more enjoyable experience. It aims for the crude and rude humor, and while it has elements of both, it still feels very generic. However, I will give Armstrong this, it looks better than a lot of low budget comedies when it came to a couple of the action sequences. Had the jokes just felt a little bit more inspired they may have had something here.
SEARCH PARTY is not necessarily a terrible movie. The cast is good and it is better shot than a lot of silly comedies that we've seen lately. Regrettably it just feels like a bunch of recycled jokes from better movies without adding anything new. A man afraid to get married? Yep. Friends doing bad things with good intentions? Done. Wacky adventures in Mexico? Of course. If you are a fan of the cast then this might be at the very least worth a watch streaming. Yet if you are looking for an entertaining flick with a lot of laughs, this is not the party you should be searching for... yes, I went for it.