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PBIFF Review: “Searching for Sonny” (POSITIVE)

April 16, 2012

Writer/Director Andrew Disney has crafted something clever here, he’s made a movie that I’m sure will recieve cult status within the next few years, a movie that will have millions of t-shirts spawned featuring the face of Gary (Brian McElhaney) whimpering, it’s a movie that will have drunk guys reciting classic Calvin (Nick Kocher) lines as if they were done by Shakespeare; “Damnit Gary!”

“Searching for Sonny” was one of very few comedies of 2012 that made me laugh my ass off from start to finish (the other goes to “21 Jump Street”). The movie is a send up to old school mystery noir’s from the 30’s and 40’s with a modern twist, think “Kiss Me Deadly” meets “The Big Lebowski”. The movie borrows elements from many other films and television works of the past 15 years, normally this wouldn’t sit well with some, but for me I found myself in geek nirvana; I love film-noir, I love comedies, and I love “Back to the Future Part III” (see the movie to understand that). And while the twist is predictable to a certain degree, the movie makes up for it’s charm, sense of irony, and brilliant casting.

Elliot Knight (Jason Dohring) is a hapless schmuck who’s only accomplishment in life is being known as the guy who tried to kill his best friend,  Sonny Boscoe (Masi Oka), well he didn’t try to kill him, it’s just complicated. Elliot recieves a strange postcard in his mail telling him to return to his small Texas town for his 10th high school reunion. Weird things start to emerge, after he learns that Boscoe has gone missing, the love of his life, Eden (Minka Kelly), finding out her husband turns up dead, and a thread of bizzare conspiracy theories from Elliot’s fraternal twin brother, Calvin, start to pour out of his jabbering mouth, and almost start to make sense. What Elliot, Calvin, and their loser buddy Gary realize is that the events that are happening right infront of them are reflecting off a stage play they tried to do in high school written by Sonny. Can they solve the mystery of Sonny’s disappearence and how it connects to the possible murder of Eden’s husband? RRRIIIIGGGHHHHHTTTTT!

As I said before, the movie does borrow elements of other past comedies, you can tell these guys are “Big Lebowski” fans, especially if you’re also a fan (guitly). The narration voiced by Clarke Peters is cheeky, and is an important tool to the film-noir structure, but to me, I felt like the narrator was the hard-nosed brother of the narrartor from “Arrested Development”. The movie has fun with it’s pop cultural references to please a certain fanbase, but it doesn’t go off the grid for it’s own good, it still maintains it’s originality and focus in telling it’s very own story. The casting however is the real major success of this movie. Fans of BriTANick comedy will be happy to see Nick & Brian in full form here. Nick is quite memorable in the role given to him, he had always something crazy to say, something memorable, I said it once and I’ll say it again, “Damnit Gary” is the NEW “Shut the fuck up Donny” for this generation. Jason Dohring plays a great loveable loser who you truly root for, even if he is the kind of guy who gets jealous of Jesus Christ’s accomplishments over his own.

As a freelance film editor, I admire the editing styles used in the film, one scene comes to mind is the sequence where Elliot, Calvin, and Gary prep for the Homecoming Dance, as well as the quick cutaways used throughout the film; “30 Rock”-ish in my oppinion. I keep going back to what this movie reminds me of, and I don’t want to make it sound like it’s a bad thing, because it’s not. Inspiration is a positive aspect in any movie and it really shines here, it’s one of the elements of the film I admired most. Would I nitpick on this movie? Sure, you could nitpick about a lot of things in lots of movies. For this film, I guess I wish that the twist wasn’t so in your face obvious from the first act, because I had a pretty good idea where the twist was going when a certain character says, “Really? You don’t remember? I remeber it had a really good twist.” That moment was the dead give away, after that it was basically an hour and twenty minutes of expecting the inveitable. Then again, maybe the filmmakers made it obvious as a point to satire plot twists? Or maybe I’m over analyzing it. However, there are a few other minor twists that follow, that are quite amusing. Still, that one problem with the movie didn’t ruin it for me one bit, because the ride getting to that point was a blast, with non-stop laugh after laugh.

I can honestly say this is a movie I’ll see again when it gets a wider release, and come the day it hits the DVD/Bluray shelves, I’ll be the first one there to buy a copy. On a side note, I have a message for Sonny himself, Masi Oka, I would love to see the full stage version of the Spock stage play!

GRADE: B+

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Caley permalink
    April 18, 2012 9:32 pm

    Told you it was a good film 🙂

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