Director: Scot Armstrong
Cast: Adam Pally, T. J. Miller, Thomas Middleditch
Spoilers Within: No
Originally posted 6th July 2016 on Letterboxd.
It’s not unfair to make comparisons between Search Party and The Hangover series: Scot Armstrong, director of the former, was head writer of the second instalment of the latter. The hallmarks of that bafflingly popular trilogy are all here: a trio of dudes (I know The Hangover had four, but who really counts Justin Bartha?) searching for their missing friend; a series of misunderstandings leading to one of the party being in close-to-the-border country; vulgar bro-humour; far-fetched action; needless violence; silly foreign accents, and repeat. What is unfair to say, though, is that Search Party is a comedy.
Bereft of any actual jokes, it’s entirely a series of farcical events that challenge logic (Jason Mantzoukas and Krysten Ritter as organ-harvesting magicians, what?) and muted one-liners delivered with such scarcity that they’re easy to miss. My main reason for watching was the to see Silicon Valley duo Thomas Middleditch and T. J. Miller play off each other in a different situation and it’s mostly thanks to them that I didn’t switch it off half-way through. Middleditch throws his all into this role (seriously, everything), and Miller once again plays to type (which isn’t wholly bad), but the laughs that I did get from them was purely because I admire them as comedians with fantastic delivery and timing, not because the script was in any way witty. It was a joy – as always – to see J. B. Smoove here too: there’s something effortless about his emphatic barking that often brings a chuckle, but again, this is no cause to celebrate Armstrong’s screenplay. As for Adam Pally – the Justin Bartha of the group – he came to me from obscurity, and I’m fine with him disappearing back there.
It’s a shame that Middleditch put his balls on the line for such an insipid laugh-free comedy, but he and Miller will always have Silicon Valley, and if there’s anything to be taken from this review, it’s a recommendation of the highest degree to watch that instead.