Thursday, March 1, 2018

Game Night: Movie Review


Exteme action and some laughs.
These big-styled action comedies have a really tough line to straddle where the difference between larger-than-life fun and over-the-top ridiculousness can be really thin and many just fall off on the wrong side. The most notable recent success is The Horrible Bosses where even when reality is thrown out the window, the audience is willing to go along with it. Game Night is always slipping off the edge – each new action sequence is larger than it should be, but it never completely falls off. 2018

Directed by: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein

Screenplay by: Mark Perez

Starring: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams

The large, very winning, ensemble works very hard to keep the audience with them even when the script abandons them. The beginning is more cute than overly funny but it is a good set-up for all the characters. Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) are both ultra-competitive game night junkies who fall in love and get married as they realize they can win together rather than compete against each other and lose. Both characters have the potential to be way too annoying but Bateman has always excelled at selecting the right tone, and Rachel McAdams is (surprisingly?) very adept at pulling off this tricky comedic character.

Their game night friends include Ryan (Billy Magnussen) who has a new and younger girlfriend every week, and married couple Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Burnbury. However the outsiders threaten (and do) steal the show. Jesse Plemons is devilishly hilarious as the creepy cop Gary, but really he’s just lonely following his divorce and losing his connection to his gaming neighbours. Kyle Chandler is perfect and hilarious as the devilishly scheming (and also competitive) Brooks, Max’s older brother and ultimate thorn-the-side.

The comedy picks up once Brooks hosts his live-action kidnapping mystery party and forcing our main characters to both solve the game and then realize that it’s really not a game. The smaller moments, where the characters are just being themselves and determining their next move, are the best scenes of the movie.

For those that prefer pure comedies, the action plot takes things further than it should. Quite a few moments where I groaned rather than laughed, but, as I said before, it never falls off completely. The cast can still find some comedy hidden amongst all the extreme action sequences. Game Night is far from perfect, and not the best of the genre, but it does provide laughs with a great cast.