Search Party Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: T.J. Miller, Adam Pally, Thomas Middleditch, Alison Brie, Shannon Woodward
  • Director: Scot Armstrong
  • Writers: Scot Armstrong, Mike Gagerman, Andrew Waller
  • Producers: Scot Armstrong, Ori Marmur, Ravi Nandan, Paul Brooks
  • Format: NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, Dutch, French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: July 5, 2016
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2018
  • Run Time: 93 minutes

        Search Party may be shamelessly derivative, culturally insensitive, and weirdly illogical, but I still found myself laughing more than I have at many larger budget Hollywood comedies with similar tones to be released in the past few years (Zoolander 2, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, Dumb and Dumber To, Vacation, and others that weren’t sequels to better films), mostly due to the delivery from the trio of leading men. T.J. Miller, Adam Pally, and Thomas Middleditch are primarily known as TV actors, and perhaps this is why they appear to be trying so hard in their feature-film leading roles. This commitment and solid comedic instincts leads to a few great moments which almost feel unintentional when surrounded by the many jokes which fall flat. Though it probably says more about the sad state of Hollywood comedies in recent years, Search Party is far from the worst I have seen.

        The film plays like a post-wedding rip-off of The Hangover when the actions of a few idiotic friends lead to a series of mishaps which occur during the honeymoon rather than the bachelor party. During the comparatively low-key bachelor party smoking marijuana in a sketchy van, Nardo (Middleditch) voices his pre-wedding jitters about marrying Tracy (Shannon Woodward) to his roommates and childhood friends, Evan (Pally) and Jason (Miller). Jason takes this as a cry for help and unwisely voices his concern during the wedding ceremony, causing Tracy to leave for the Mexican honeymoon destination without Nardo. The bumbling groom follows her in an attempt to win his bride back, but instead ends up naked and stranded in Mexico, forced to rely on his two friends for rescue.

        With even more ridiculously cartoonish characters than Las Vegas and Thailand provided for The Hangover franchise (and just as much awkward male nudity), Search Party is far from sensitive in its portrayal of Mexico. Aside from a few brief sanitized sequences within a vacation resort, one would have to assume that the entire country is made up of violent thieves, corrupt cops, and drug dealers. In other words, this is Donald Trump’s vision of Mexico. Each attempt to resolve the situation leads to several more problems which become increasingly dangerous, leading to an explosion-filled shootout that somehow manages to retain its slapstick silliness despite the heavy artillery.

        Although the film’s plot relies on a few key character tasks (Nardo must win back his bride-to-be, Evan must return to the states for an important work meeting), much of Search Party is just a collection of ridiculous and unrelated scenarios along the way. It is somewhat fitting that these detour subplots give the film a sitcom structure, as the movie is crammed full of television actors. Along with the three leads, nearly every sequence in the film has several supporting roles made up of TV actors very distractingly trying to ham it up enough to remain memorable amidst the chaos. While the film is far from realistic, the three main characters feel fleshed out in a way that is somewhat believable, but these supporting performances merely pander and beg for attention.

Both believability and realism is thrown out the window for a collection of shamelessly showy performances from actors trying to make their mark on the film. Alison Brie is a character whose motives are never clear despite the effort she goes to in order to help the guys. She mostly appears to be in the film simply as an unrealistic work crush for Evan, and to wear tight skirts for male audience members to ogle. Krysten Ritter is similarly exploited as an organ thief who teams up with a ridiculously over-the-top casino magician (Jason Mantzoukas from “The League”) and undresses for obviously base reasons in one of her two scenes in the film. J.B. Smoove is also shoehorned into the film as some type of Mexican crime lord, despite the clear ethnic incongruity. Even this is not as obnoxious as the placement of Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci as wedding singers. They are essentially just playing their “Garfunkel and Oates” characters, which are completely illogical in tone and feel more like a last-minute favor to these actors than anything that would have made sense in the screenplay. Their final wedding song is a slap in the face of viewers after all the other absurd leaps of logic that the screenplay forced upon them.

        The Blu-ray release includes a Digital HD copy of the film. There are no special features and no reason to see this film in high definition, unless you have an odd need to see Middleditch’s nude middle-bits with extra clarity.

Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 4.5/10
Historical Significance:  2/10
Special Features: 1/10

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