REVIEW: “Game Night”

Gameposter

“Game Night” is a weird thing and watching it uncurl to reveal some semblance of an identity is one part fascinating and equal part frustrating. On one hand it’s a comedy with several hits and a handful of misses. But as its story unfolds a weirdly off-balanced action element surfaces that adds more blood and bullets but doesn’t always help the humor.

The creative duo of John Francis Daily and Jonathan Goldstein direct “Game Night” which is from a script by Mark Perez. The premise goes something like this: Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) are a perfect couple. They first met over a game of Trivial Pursuit and have held their own weekly game night since. Their usual guests include fellow married couple Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle Kylie (Bunbury), along with air-head Ryan (Billy Magnussen) and his fresh date-of-the-week.

Game1

Max’s good-looking and wildly successful older brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) bulls into town and takes over game night for a week. Always looking to one-up his brother, Brooks stages an elaborate mystery game complete with role-playing, paid actors, and clues scattered across town. The first couple to solve the mystery gets the keys to his Corvette Sting Ray (which happens to be Max’s dream car).

Things get crazy when Brooks’ shady private life crosses paths with the game. Real thugs cross paths with fake ones and our not-so-bright players are caught in the middle. This obviously opens the door for the aforementioned action component which does tee the ball up for a couple of the film’s best scenes. A hysterical bullet removal sequence between McAdams and Bateman is a prime example. But the action, sometimes quite bloody, also clashes with the tone of other scenes.

Game2

Several other positives stood out. Jesse Plemons is the one consistently funny piece. He plays a stone-faced police officer and neighbor to Max and Annie. He’s found himself uninvited to the game nights due to his overtly weird and creepy personality. Plemons steals every scene he is in. I also can’t say enough about the comic timing of both Bateman and McAdams. Both work at just the right pitch and hold everything together even as things begin to unravel in the third act.

So “Game Night” has its moments. It’s only in the instances where Daily and Goldstein resort to their “Vacation” and “Horrible Bosses 2” days that the humor sours. But enough jokes land and its solid cast is committed enough to make this a fairly easy sell. Especially when compared to much of what passes as modern day comedy.

VERDICT – 3 STARS

3-stars

19 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Game Night”

  1. This movie made me a Rachel McAdams stan for life. She’s so terrific in this!

    The humor was extremely hit-or-miss for sure. I don’t suspect a lot of the “timely” jokes will age very well though. Brilliant concept, less-than-stellar execution.

  2. This movie was…all over the place. I did laugh a few times though. Mostly at Plemons (as you mentioned he was hysterical)! Bateman and McAdams had their moments also. Too bad it wasn’t more consistent with its story and humor.

  3. This was so well done – the cinematography and music were so unique for a comedy film. I loved Plemos’ work too, he really stole the show here

  4. I was pleasantly surprised buy how much I enjoyed this (and my review notes that specifically); you’ve cracked the code on this one, my friend. I think the blend of comedy and violence work well within the film (which in itself is unusual) and I think that’s really down to the tone the actors use for the comedy. A solid film and I had some decent chuckles out of it.

    • The actors are a real strength. McAdams only gets better, Bateman can do this type of character in his sleep, I always enjoy Chandler, and Plemons is an absolute scene stealer.

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