A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Search Party is about adult men (T.J. Miller, Thomas Middleditch, and Adam Pally) behaving like extremely immature, bad boys. They smoke pot, do cocaine, and pick up women in bars -- all of which gets them into trouble of some kind. Even when they act out of seemingly noble motives -- as when they rescue a carjacked friend who's stranded, naked, in Mexico -- their utter obliviousness and stupidity makes this over-the-top comedy difficult to watch. Some scenes are violent, with guns, peril, fighting, and flaming arrows; there's also full-frontal male nudity, tons of aggressive ogling, the aforementioned drug use (as well as pills and drinking), and extremely salty language ("f--k," "s--t," "bitch, "p---y," and much more).
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What's the story?
SEARCH PARTY, emphasis on "party," follows Evan (Adam Pally), Jason (T.J. Miller), and Nardo (Thomas Middleditch), three childhood best friends who get high at Nardo's bachelor party. Jason, the most oblivious, irresponsible, and selfish of the trio, busts up the ensuing wedding ceremony, sending the tearful bride running out of the church. This catapults the plot into an ever-escalating series of unfortunate events. The dumped bride goes on the couple's planned Mexican honeymoon alone. Nardo drives from Los Angeles to apologize and get her back, but he's carjacked and left naked on a Mexican roadside. Up for an adventure -- and with a noble rescue as his excuse -- Jason and the Ambien-addled Evan hit the road at midnight ... even though Evan has to be back for an important meeting the next morning. In the meantime, Nardo is chased, arrested, thrown into a truck full of cocaine, tied up, and threatened at gunpoint by a drug-dealing Mexican police officer, all while naked. Phone booths, wire transfers, fake IDs, date-rape drugs, corrupt police, the black market kidney trade, and a burning-arrows-wielding maniac all play a role in supposedly teaching the guys the real meaning of love, friendship, and growing up.
Is it any good?
This movie's greatest fault isn't that the characters are stunningly stupid (one guy thinks they speak "Mexican" in Mexico) but that it's, for the most, part deeply unfunny and, even worse, boring. It's no surprise that first-time director Scot Armstrong was one of the writers of The Hangover Part II, as he seems to want to target the audience that made the first Hangover a hit. Middleditch and Miller (both known for TV's Silicon Valley) play characters who epitomize the worst aspects of the deadly stupid-people-struggling-with-their-stupidity subgenre. The stereotype of the immature, irresponsible, inept slacker -- a guy with the mind of a clueless pre-teen boy living in the body of an adult male -- has made for some popular entertainment before, but this is really just The Three Stooges with drugs, sex, and nudity.
There are a few laugh-out-loud moments, but most of this is so recycled from other, far better movies that unless you're 12 (and no 12-year-old should be watching this), you'll have seen it all many times before. Search Party sat on the shelf for almost two years before finally hitting theaters because two studios declined to release it, which is never a good sign. One reason for its terribleness may be that, as the actors have reported, their adlibs and improvisations were incorporated into the script. Sometimes that can be a good thing. But not this time.
Talk to your kids about ...
The movie has several violent scenes/moments -- does the fact that the movie is a comedy affect their impact?
How are women viewed/treated in the movie? What message does that send?
The characters do stupid things, over and over. Are the filmmakers suggesting that stupidity is funny? Do you think people really behave this way?
What audience do you think the movie is aimed at? How can you tell? Why do different people find different types of humor funny?
- In theaters: May 13, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: July 5, 2016
- Cast: T.J. Miller, Adam Pally, Thomas Middleditch, Alison Brie
- Director: Scot Armstrong
- Studio: FilmFocus
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language throughout, drug use, graphic nudity, and sexual content
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