'Searching for Sonny' finds comedic balance

AddThis

2011 Austin Film Festival

In "Searching for Sonny," Elliot (Jason Dohring, center) gets caught up in a murder case after attending his 10-year high school reunion. (Photo courtesy of "Searching for Sonny")

“Searching for Sonny”
Andrew Disney

Genre: Comedy
Grade: B+

The main appeal to “Searching for Sonny” is most certainly its cast, cribbed together with notable supporting actors from some of TV’s best dramas, past and present. Jason Dohring (“Veronica Mars”) stars as Elliot, a 28-year-old disappointment who attends a 10-year high school reunion in order to apologize to best friend Sonny (Masi Oka, “Heroes”) for an ill-advised murder attempt borne from a desire to win back ex-girlfriend Eden (Minka Kelly, “Friday Night Lights”). Once he arrives home, Elliot finds himself embroiled in a murder case that strongly resembles a play Sonny wrote back in high school.

Andrew Disney’s stylish film combines deeply meta hijinks with the hard-boiled suburbia of modern noir “Brick,” and mixes imagery and themes from genres ranging from the romantic comedy to the Western. The collection of influences never seems unfocused or badly mixed, and the film’s cast performs admirably. Oka is a bit underused, but Dohring is certainly a sight for sore eyes, having essentially disappeared from the screen since “Veronica Mars’” cancellation and proving that he hasn’t gotten any less intense or charming in his downtime. Meanwhile, Minka Kelly plays a great femme fatale and Clarke Peters (“The Wire”) does some very strong voice-over work as the narrator. “Searching for Sonny” makes great use of its cast, location and has a smart, twisty script that manages to find an original, funny way for the characters to comment on the action as it unfolds.