Setting the bar very low, and celebrating the worst aspects of countless “frat” movies from recent history, Search Party should be an unmitigated disaster. However, judging it by its own sub-standard standard, it is a passable comedy with a couple of laughs that keep it watchable if never truly entertaining.
Following a late night weed smoking session, Nardo (Thomas Middleditch) tells his two pals of his concerns about his impending nuptials. Taking it as a misguided call to action, Jason (T.J Miller) decides to stop the wedding on the big day itself, much to the anger of Evan (Adam Pally), the other friend making up this unlikeable trio.
Spiralling into depression, Nardo heads off to Mexico to try and win back the woman he loves. Evan, meanwhile, is on the verge of a big promotion and is inexplicably helped by a co-worker (Alison Brie). Unfortunately, Jason receives a call from his lovesick buddy that things have gotten even worse South of the border, and a car-jacking has resulted in Nardo losing his wheels, wallet and trousers (don’t ask).
With a big presentation on the way for Evan, Jason decides to kidnap his own pal and make for a poorly thought-out rescue mission to help desperate Nardo.
This introduces the road trip element of the film, which in turn opens up what the film really hopes to be. The influence of The Hangover is all over the script, yet there is none of the craft or humour from the original to be had here.
Miller has played infuriatingly annoying characters before, so his loser shtick is already familiar to us. Adam Pally and Thomas Middleditch will also be familiar to viewers, but they would do well to wipe this one off their CV’s sharpish.
For all the poorly-sketched “bros” on screen, spare a thought for the women involved in Search Party. Alison Brie and Krysten Ritter are still looking for their characters to show up; its a tragedy to see such great comedy performers reduced to little more than eye-candy.
Credit where credit is due, the scene involving Ritter is actually funny in its conception. It is prolonged, but does involves some neat acting and an amusing reveal along the way.
By far the worst thing in the film, however, is the reliance on accepting that casual drug-taking is consequence free. When Nardo is tanked up on a truckload of cocaine in the final act of the film, things suddenly start taking a turn for the better for him. It’s a bizarre offshoot to the main story, and feels like it is added just to introduce some gunplay and action to the finale for the sake of it.
It’s no surprise to learn that one of the writers on this project has previously worked on Hangover Part II. More of an eye-opener though is the fact that director Scot Armstrong has also worked on Old School. Perhaps the odd laugh that is here comes from that background… although it is almost entirely accidental.
Don’t go looking for this one in your local multiplex… it’s not worth the effort!