Real-life mother and daughter Connie Stevens and Joely Fisher share the screen for the first time, playing mom and daughter in “Search Engines,” an otherwise unnoteworthy, insufferably talky satire centering around an ill-fated Thanksgiving gathering.
Fisher plays a recently divorced mother of two teens and out-of-work art critic determined to cook a traditional festive dinner with all the trimmings in her sunny Southern California home for her smartphone-addicted friends and extended family.
But taming the turkey proves to be the least of her challenges when her neighborhood’s cell reception suddenly goes dead, which proceeds to bring out the worst in some already less than exemplary behavior from her preoccupied houseguests.
Unfortunately many viewers will have experienced their own connectivity issues long before those characters do.
Although there’s a genuinely cozy rapport between Fisher and Stevens, the other cast members, including Daphne Zuniga, Nick Court, Natasha Gregson Wagner and Michael Muhney, have a tougher time trying to make all the overwritten, self-consciously quirky dialogue believably their own.
Filmmaker Russell Brown clearly had something pertinent he wished to say about our plugged-in, tuned-out obsession with the Internet and was obviously going for a Luis Buñuel-Robert Altman style of social commentary here.
But even the great Altman, a whiz at choreographing sprawling casts, wouldn’t have been able to whip this largely unlikable ensemble and all their tedious, endless navel gazing into any sort of crowd-pleasing shape.
This overcooked Thanksgiving turkey succeeds only in managing to take all the fun out of dysfunctional.
Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Playing: Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood.