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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Search Party (Blu-ray)
Search Party (Blu-ray)
Universal // R // July 5, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted June 30, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Early in the year of our Lord 2016, I saw a red band trailer for a film called Search Party. I laughed at it, I bought into it blindly, and it had a lot of familiar faces to it. This joy apparently allowed me to overlook some of the things I didn't know about the production. And then I saw the film and I understood why. In the year of our Lord 2016, I was Rickrolled in cinematic fashion.

Scot Armstrong is a veteran of the Second City and UCB comedy improvisational and sketch groups, and co-wrote several films with Todd Phillips including Old School, Road Trip and Starsky & Hutch, with Phillips directing those. Search Party is Armstrong's directorial debut and follows in a similar vein of Road Trip and The Hangover films to an extent. Search Party was shot in 2013 and released overseas in 2014 before its North American release in 2016, and in retrospect the trailer for the film is a big hint as to why. The film focuses on a trio of guy friends and re-unites Silicon Valley co-stars TJ Miller and Thomas Middleditch, who play Jason and Nardo, respectively. The third man in the group is Adam Pally (Happy Endings), who plays Evan. Nardo has fallen in love with and plans to marry Tracy (Shannon Woodward, Raising Hope), but when Jason objects at the ceremony, Tracy dumps Nardo and takes their honeymoon, by herself, in Mexico. Nardo tries to go after her to win her back, but calls Jason in the middle of the night, from a pay phone in Mexico, with no clothes. So Jason and Evan, to the latter's objections, attempt to go get him.

Of the three, Jason is perhaps the most juvenile of the bunch, with a proclivity towards getting high, drunk and in trouble, frequently. Nardo is the most mature but in a moment of weakness, expresses a drug-induced regret about the marriage at the bachelor party. So while Jason's intentions are honorable, they couldn't have been executed more poorly. Evan is torn between Nardo's maturity and Jason's goofiness, and he exhibits this at his job, in front of his boss (Lance Reddick, Silicon Valley) and a prospective girlfriend/co-worker (Alison Brie, How to be Single). So those cinematic mile markers are there. The other things that show up are the interesting stops that Jason and Evan take along the way, whether it‘s to a casino entertainer and his girlfriend (Jason Mantzoukas, The League and Krysten Ritter, Big Eyes, respectively) or to a twelve-year old who makes fake IDs. Characters with quirks that Jason and Evan run into, with intended hilarious responses. The twist in this film, compared to Old School and Road Trip is that we see the goal often through the second act, and Nardo's events are strange and entertaining, executed in a daring way by Middleditch. We see his "Pied Piper" often in the movie, as he's naked for most of the film in a Ken Jeong kind of way, though he takes a turn when he jumps into and becomes covered by a bounty of cocaine. Middleditch is funny, and the people he runs into (including a near unrecognizable JB Smoove at first glance) are just as funny.

The problem with that is twofold; Nardo's character arc, for most of the movie, is supposed to be the ‘B' arc, and it's generally funny and intriguing. But it is still the secondary one, with the primary one falling flat much of the time. Pally is supposed to be the straight guy who a lot of stuff happens to, and Miller is a stoner to an extent, and they both come across as a little neutered onscreen. Actual funny moments, even playing off vets like Mantzoukas, are not entertaining, in part because we've seen them play out a ton of other times in other movies, and done better. Like their characters, Miller and Pally are going by some weird comedy checklist of things you have to do to make a comedy, and their half-assing it on screen is visible.

You would think after seeing similar films like this play out as they do from a behind-the-scenes perspective that I would have a thick skin by now, but it still grates me that Search Party looked so promising, but like scores of other films that preceded it, looks like, well, scores of other films that preceded it. The best parts of it are in the trailer, and very little else.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

Universal rolls Search Party out with an AVC encode to go with its 2.40:1 widescreen high-definition presentation, and the results are fine. Most of the movie is either shot at night (and the black levels tend to be inconsistent at times in the first few moments Nardo calls from Mexico), or in the desert where the sun is glaring but looks natural without blow outs. Jason and Evan harp on the red skirt Brie wears in the office in a scene and the red looks just as natural without saturation, and the image is devoid of DNR or haloing. Pretty much as expected I thought, for a two year old low budget movie.

The Sound:

The film doesn't get a lot to do until the second and third act, with gunfire and an occasional car crash, gunfire or explosion. When those occur, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless surround does get involved with low-end fidelity and an occasional channel panning instance. But the level of immersion is fairly non-existent, with scarce directional effects or other moments where dynamic range would be exhibited. Dialogue is clean and requires little user adjustment and generally free of issues, but more could have clearly been done with it.

Extras:

No hay nada.

Final Thoughts:

The front of the case of Search Party touts the film as coming from one of the guys who made Old School and Road Trip. That's good. However, Search Party is with new people, doing basically the same movie, with a twist, and is ultimately not funny, despite the gamut of comedic actors and actresses in it. That's bad. Technically, the disc is a minor disappointment, and could have used some bonus material. Otherwise I wouldn't waste much time on it, save to see the scenes with Thomas Middleditch in them.

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