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Searching for Sonny

by on July 18, 2012
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A professional-looking production with more enthusiasm than wit, “Searching for Sonny” is a plodding whodunit in which we don’t care who did it, who they did it to or why they did. Ostensibly a comedy, it has lot of forced wackiness and moments that are supposed to be giddy but end up just seeming goofy.

Writer/director Andrew Disney, helming his first feature film, certainly knows how to craft a visually polished movie. The camera work, lighting and editing are all a couple steps up from what one usually sees in an indie production.

But the script and story execution leave much to be desired. The tale is about a group of high-school buds who meet for their 10-year high school reunion and end up becoming embroiled in a murder/mystery plot. Curiously, the circumstances closely resemble a play they put on back in school, which was penned by the missing member of their quartet, which gives the movie its title.

The play ended disastrously before they reached the 20th page, and the movie doesn’t even make it that far.

The cause of the play’s swift demise was Elliot Knight (Jason Dohring), the would-be hero. He poisoned his best friend, Sonny Bosco (Masi Oka), so he could take over the lead role in the play, “The Heated Moment,” and be the one to kiss the girl. Elliot thought Sonny would just be slightly sickened instead of sent to the hospital, and he’s carried the guilt around for the past decade. That plus a dead-end job in New York City has left him with the realization that he hasn’t accomplished anything in life.

The girl is Eden Mercer, played by Minka Kelly, who steals most every scene she’s in. She’s got Hollywood good looks and loads of talent, and I expect to see more of her. She had a small but pivotal part in “(500) Days of Summer.”

Things haven’t turned out so well for Eden, either, married to the high school football star she dumped Elliot for back in the day. When he turns up dead for an apparent suicide, things quickly get hairy.

Elliot’s partners are his brother, Calvin (Nick Kocher), a born troublemaker with a sense of gusto about his misdeeds, and Gary Noble (Brian McElhaney), a born loser with a serious confidence problem.

The twists and turns of the plot quickly become confusing and, eventually, dispiriting. “Searching for Sonny” feels less like an interwoven whole than a collection of scenes, each stuffed with annoying behavior and generally lame jokes.

I give the movie props for its good looks and proficient feel, and Kelly livens things up when she’s around, which isn’t often enough.

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