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Search Party (2014)

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 7/5/2016

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Extras: No Extras

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/27/2016

We've all heard the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." And there is some truth to that. If something has been successful or useful in the past, it only makes sense to use it again. Having said that, one can get stuck in a rut and find themselves doing the same thing over and over. What once seemed original and fresh can make that person look like they've run out of ideas. The named Scot Armstrong may not be familiar, but he's spent a career working with Todd Phillips, having worked on the scripts for Road Trip and The Hangover Part II, amongst others. He has worked with The Farrelly Brothers, contributing to the screenplay for The Heartbreak Kid. For his directorial debut, Armstrong has brought us a film which contains elements of all of the above films. Perhaps he should have shot for something a little more original.

It's Nardo's (Thomas Middleditch) bachelor party and he shares with his best friends/roommates, Evan (Adam Pally) and Jason (T.J. Miller), that he's having cold feet. The next day, at the wedding, Jason takes these words too seriously and attempts to stop the wedding. Nardo's fiancee, Tracy (Shannon Woodward), is humiliated and she not only flees the church, but she hijacks the honeymoon package and heads for Mexico. Nardo follows her, but he's carjacked and left naked in a foreign country. Feeling that he must make up for ruining the wedding, Jason kidnaps Evan, who has a huge meeting scheduled, and heads south of the border. Will they arrive in time to save their friend, who has now run afoul of drug dealers?

While two more writers -- Mike Gagerman and Andrew Waller -- were involved in Search Party, the movie plays like a "greatest hits" of Armstrong's other movies. As with the other films, we get an impromptu road trip. The journey to Mexico is reminiscent of The Heartbreak Kid. The group of three guys, one of whom has no idea how obnoxious he is can't help but bring The Hangover Part II to mind. Jason and Evan have a bizarre side-trip, which was like something out of Road Trip. As is the scene in which as a car is lost. So, in case you are missing the not-so-subtle message, much of Search Party doesn't feel very original. But, beyond that, one can't help but think that Armstrong is taking the easy way out, venturing into familiar territory and not taking any chances with his first time in the director's chair.

And while familiarity can breed contempt, Search Party is able to must a few laughs, mostly due to the sheer adventurous nature of the cast. As noted above, Nardo is left naked in the desert...and that isn't just merely suggested, as Middleditch is sans clothes for much of the movie. As usual, T.J. Miller appears to be in his own movie and he spouts some bizarre dialogue which I highly doubt was in the script. The movie moves from one scene to another at a brisk pace and the energy put forth by the cast helps to keep it going. And while we do get some funny lines, the movie's big set-pieces don't work. Jason and Evan run into some strange criminals in a segment which goes on for far too long. The same can be said for Nardo's interactions with some drug dealers. Despite it's seemingly expansive plot, within the movie's 93-minute running time, the movie is comprised of segments. And when they don't work, as in the casino scene, they really don't work.

I couldn't help but note that Search Party was shot in 2013, but is just now seeing the light of day. Is this due in part to the fact that Middleditch and Miller have grown in popularity due to their work on Silicon Valley, and Pally has made a splash on shows like Happy Endings and The Mindy Project? I can certainly see how fans of those actors will be tempted to check out this movie due to their presence. The film also features small roles from other familiar faces, such as Alison Brie and J.B. Smoove, so the cast is impressive. This leaves us with yet another mystery of why a movie was shelved. No, Search Party isn't particularly good, but it's better than a lot of other so-called comedies which made it into the theater. Those who like Silicon Valley and want to see more of Middleditch, literally, may want to check this out.

Search Party offers a scene which will be a treat for fans of Parks & Recreation on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no notable grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, most notably pastel tones, but there are some scenes where it looks as if the overall brightness of the image has been increased to boost the colors. The picture contains a nice amount of depth and the level of detail is good as well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.2 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The action segments deliver a few palpable subwoofer effects. These same scenes also bring us some notable stereo and surround sound effects, mostly from audio occurring off-screen.

The Search Party Blu-ray Disc contains no special features.

Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long