Movie Review
Search Party
Search Party poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published March 7, 2014
US Release: May 13, 2016

Directed by: Scot Armstrong
Starring: T.J. Miller , Thomas Middleditch , Adam Pally

R for language throughout, drug use, graphic nudity, and sexual content
Running Time: 93 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $3,073
40 of 46
After a chuckle-inducing introduction that seems to be on the right path, the movie nosedives.
In Search Party, a young guy ruins his best friendís wedding during the ceremony, splits the bride and groom apart, and then the groom finds himself naked in Mexico needing a ride back home, and then must convince his girlfriend that he is the one to marry after the disastrous ceremony. This is the directorial debut of Scot Armstrong, who was a writer behind Road Trip, Old School, Starsky & Hutch, Semi Pro, The Hangover 2, and this. In the first scene, Armstrong shows potential in being another Todd Phillips in terms of rude and inappropriate comedy, as it is literally a reincarnation of the early wedding scene in Old School and decent, but sadly, after a chuckle-inducing introduction that seems to be on the right path, the movie nosedives. Armstrong tries hard to follow in the steps of Phillips with a hardcore guy comedy about young men who refuse to grow up, but his directing skills are horrible, the writing needed a huge overhaul, and the casting of these unknowns ends up being a mistake as these actors canít rise up over bad writing. Just when you think the movieís off to an okay start with hints of promise for later, the characters get increasingly annoying and thereís nobody to root for, the characters are badly drawn out, and the actors try so hard to be funny with bad material that you just sit there irritated at the failed opportunity.

The influence of Phillips is all over this comedy but Phillips was much smarter when he was starting out in this genre and he knew how to manage scripts and knew who to cast to make the material seem better. Search Party is essentially Old School and The Hangover in one movie, minus a good script, minus the hip direction/tones, and stripping away all star-power. The movie plays as if weíre supposed to be fans of the given actors involved and laugh because theyíre being edgy, but the screenplay isnít funny after the first scene and these actors were the wrong choices. Phillips has never cared about getting strong performances from his actors but he was able to get well-known comedians who were right for the given parts and who added nuances that made it funnier. All the unknown players in Search Party are one-note actors who just know how to rant and rave. For all the people who felt that Luke Wilson couldnít act in Old School, this movie makes him look superior in comparison.

The whole movie is about two good friends trying to get their best friend back home and all the hurdles on their road trip that try and keep them from completing their task. The plot sucks but Armstrong shouldíve been able to learn from Phillips from over the years and craft an amusing comedy out of a concept that theoretically shouldnít work. The comparisons to Old School and The Hangover wouldnít have mattered if the script itself was funny from beginning to end. Because of a few one-liners at the very beginning, you begin to think the movieís going to be funny, but after the wedding scene, it sucks. We donít care about the best friend being stuck in Mexico, and the running gag of his nakedness on the streets is driven into the ground. And the guy who ruins the wedding is only funny for a few minutes.

What Armstrong shouldíve done with this comedy was stick to the approach of unknown actors, but not these in particular, and write material thatís designed to break these actors out to the mainstream. Concepts like this, however lame to begin with, have potential with the masses if the script is amusing. This couldíve been a word of mouth comedy introducing some unknown funny people to the mainstream, but unfortunately, it fails on so many levels that the prospects of success are minimal. Itís opening a weekend after Labor Day which is a dumping ground, which means the studio has no faith. But it would fail no matter what weekend it was released because audiences only show up if itís funny. The movie likely has a small budget but itís going to be dead on arrival and have no word of mouth. It plays like a bad cable movie or straight-to-DVD comedy and thatís basically going to be its audience.
Lee's Grade: C-
Ranked #40 of 46 between Neighbors 2 (#39) and The Boss (#41) for 2016 movies.
Lee's Overall Grading: 3025 graded movies
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