Wednesday, September 12, 2018


Rated :  PG-13

STARS:  John Cho, Debra Messing
DIRECTOR: Aneesh Chaganty
GENRE: Suspense/Thriller

If your head is buried in your phone or computer screen for essentially every waking hour, then you'll feel right at home with Searching and it's gimmicky visual presentation. If that isn't you, then the caveat is that every shot in the entire film is viewed through the filter of some technological device--whether laptop, phone, webcam or what have you. It's a gimmick to make a statement about technology being a double-edged sword--as potentially dangerous as it is magical. I found it distracting, and a heavy-handed way to make a point, but not to the degree of where it ruins the film, which I became increasingly absorbed in as it picked up speed and raced toward it's you-didn't-see-this-coming conclusion. 

John Cho is David Kim, whose 16 year-old daughter Margot (Michelle La), has disappeared. As the clues to her possible whereabouts pile up like Jenga blocks, David becomes increasingly frantic and hot-headed, accusing one individual and then another (including his brother) of having something to do with her disappearance. When the story goes viral, police detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing) is assigned to the case. Her first instinct is to tell David that his daughter has likely run away. But when Margot's car is discovered submerged at the bottom of a lake, things start to point toward a tragic outcome. The answer to the mystery lies--where else--in Margot's laptop.

Lots of twists and turns along the road to the ultimate revelation in this one. But like many a suspense thriller these days, where the bad guy always turns out to be the one you'd least suspect, Searching falls into the trap of getting too cute...s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g the bounds of plausibility and believablity. 

Grade:  B -


If I could retitle this snoozer, I'd call it "The Computer Training Manual." I spend enough time at home staring at my monitor. Do I really need to do it in a movie theater? The opening setup was very original. We see, on a giant computer screen, photographs of a close knit family at various stages (baby pix, dad being pounced on in bed, mom and daughter playing a duet on the piano, etc.) including the decline and eventual death of one of its members. Like I said, very original.  But after 15 minutes of nothing but a cursor scurrying across the screen and text messages between dad and daughter beeping endlessly, I began to fidget.  

I also wondered what viewers who weren't that  computer savvy would think of this Google-driven who-done-it.  No doubt it made the cost of making Searching a whole lot cheaper.  But it was a steep price for me to pay as my eyelids kept getting heavier and heavier.  

Tim has already outlined the plot which, by the end, seemed ridiculously unbelievable.  I won't ruin it for those of you foolish enough to want to see this movie but it was all I could do not to guffaw when the true villain emerged. 

At least casting Asians in these roles was believable. Then again, maybe it's just me and my resistance to technology. I don't know how to text, selfies are beyond my skill set and I'm the only person I know who doesn't own a cell phone.  

Grade: C -