Scot Armstrong's overly familiar road trip comedy deals exclusively in stereotypes
Can we please just place a lifetime ban on ‘White people vs Mexico’ comedies, already? It’s an ignorant concept recently seen in the likes of The Hangover Part III, We're the Millers, The A-Team and Due Date. Movies which choose to reduce an entire country to a wasteland ruled over by thuggish 'cholas' and cocaine dealers, whilst simultaneously running down the checklist to make sure every other stereotype is covered too – whether it's grill-wearing black gangsters, or slimeball police officers.
The thing is, we’ve reached the point now where this kind of rampant stereotyping has been so common for so long that its offensiveness has just begun to wither to a kind of aching dullness. And Search Party – from debut writer-director Scot Armstrong (Todd Phillips' writing partner) – is mightily dull. For haven’t we seen this all before? The uptight everyman (here Adam Pally) and his stoner friend (TJ Miller) take to the road to save their stranded, nerdy friend (Thomas Middleditch)? It’s a premise so familiar, yet so half-heartedly retold that it’s basically equivalent to those guys from Drunk History trying to recall the plot of The Hangover whilst in a semi-catatonic state.
The oddly frustrating part of these kinds of quick-buck comedies is that, in their reliance on simply hiring every American comedian who’s available for the month, someone will inevitably manage to break free from the script and actually do something interesting (Jason Mantzoukas as super-creepy magician The Amazing Hugo in this case). Yet it only goes to make the whole experience even more depressing because you’re suddenly, briefly reminded of what watching real, honest-to-god comedy feels like. Not that this movie cares, because throwing money at comedy folk duo Garfunkel and Oates until they’ll bookend the movie with a couple of their own superior songs means less of that actual, damned work of writing jokes. Yippee! Laziness wins again.
Selected release from Fri 29 May.