Guilty Pleasure Night: A Review of "Game Night"
Game Night is the kind of film where you enter the cinema without expecting much, then it sneaks up on you and has you laughing at all the right moments, and leaving the movie house with a grin plastered on your face. An updated version of the classic screwball comedy, it’s directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (who co-wrote Horrible Bosses), with a screenplay from the talented Mark Perez. While it stars Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, it’s ensemble acting that bright and impeccable carrying the film through.
Max (Bateman) and Annie (McAdams) are dedicated ‘gamers’, taking Pictionary, Charades, Monopoly, etc to new career-defining levels. They get together with friends once a week; and it’s when Brooks (Kyle Chandler), Max’s brother, shows up that a bad case of sibling rivalry rears it’s ugly head. Turning the game into a murder mystery, Brooks inadvertently makes the game more real than it should be, with comedy and violence produced in equal measures.
The smart screenplay of Perez is a true gem; even when the punchline is delivered, look out for a follow-up that’s even funnier. Jesse Plemons as the very strange cop neighbour is a hoot - without uttering a single funny line, his demeanour and delivery of every deadpan utterance had me in stitches. Billy Magnusson is the second scene stealer playing the classic ‘dumb blonde’ - the twist being it’s a guy. While Bateman is a given in terms of comedic timing, the truly pleasant surprise here is McAdams, playing both funny and charming with panache.
Set pieces that are immediately memorable include the one of Annie and her DIY bullet extraction, the one that’s lodged in Max’s arm. And there’s Max bleeding on the neighbour’s dog. Ultimately, it’s the fast pace of the comedy, and how the violence is integrated in the comedy, that gives this film an original feel. One of my guilty pleasures this early in the year, Game Night is a fun two hours in the cinema.
Photos from gamenight.movie