Sundance Review: John Cho's SEARCH is a Good Movie with a Disappointing Ending

Search is the story of one family, specifically, a father and daughter, told completely through computer screens. I wasn't entirely sold on the premise either. It seemed too gimmicky, but from the Windows XP startup screen, I was hooked. The story unfolds through pictures, emails, home videos, you name it. And within the first ten minutes, I was not only completely invested, but crying like I hadn't cried during an opening sequence since Pixar's Up

After the family faces a devastating tragedy (no spoilers), the father David (John Cho) and his daughter Margot have a seemingly typical father-daughter relationship, with David pestering his daughter with iMessages about taking out the trash. But all is not as it seems.

One night, Margot, who claimed to be at an all-night study session, disappears. She doesn't respond to calls or texts, and none of her classmates seem to know where she is. David calls the police, and Detective Vick (played by Debra Messing) begins to investigate.

With many twists and turns, Search is an exciting story that uses the limitation of its format to cleverly reveal clues as to Margot's whereabouts. However, during the last third of the movie, things start to derail. 

While Cho gives a fantastic performance, Messing comes in with the severity of a Law & Order episode, which looks cheesy through the format of FaceTime, but that's forgivable compared to the twists and turns at the end. I was rooting for this movie, but even M. Night Shyamalan would roll his eyes at this ending that literally had the audience laughing at what was supposed to be a really emotional moment. 

I'm honestly surprised such a good movie could have such a disappointing ending, and equally surprised it made it through so many production meetings without anyone saying a word. Even I can think of several better endings, and I'm sure you could too.

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