WARNER BROS. PICTURES (2018)
Directors: John Francis Daley / Jonathan Goldstein
Starring: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury, Jesse Plemons, Michael C. Hall, Kyle Chandler
Singlalong with me! “Game Night is a good fun party, bring your vodka, bring your….Pictionary?”
From two of the people responsible for inflicting Horrible Bosses on the universe, Game Night teams up Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as a highly competitive couple whose weekly game nights become a place for good buddies to get together and eventually, the hosts always win. Never too mental, the occasions are a laid back chance for friends to catch up over a soft drink. That is until one uninvited guest turns everything upside down.
Max (Bateman) and Annie (McAdams) love gaming, Max especially so – driven to win, the idea of losing repulses him. Memories of losing to his (far more successful) brother, Brooks (Chandler), as a child still haunt him and his diminishing sperm count. When Brooks turns up one evening and invites the group to his for the next game night, everything spirals into chaos. Rather than Pictionary or Scrabble, Brooks has organised a full-on murder-mystery, but when a gang of kidnappers arrives for Brooks - the game suddenly becomes real as a cross-town adventure becomes a game of survival and high stakes – with a wine-stained Westie thrown in for good measure.
Game Night is successful in its main aim – it’s a fun movie that hits the majority of its laughs. There’s a great chemistry between the entirety of the main cast, each given time to shine and add to the story which is always appreciated. The main story is, for the most part, executed well, though at times it did overly deviate from the decent path it had forged. With a snappy runtime, there’s barely enough time for the movie to drag at any point and it thunders through its one-hundred-minute duration, at the expense of good editing at times. Game Night is not perfect, but it’s definitely a fun way to spend an evening.
Bateman and McAdams work so well together as the main couple, with Bateman doing what he does effortlessly and McAdams showing her great comedic chops. Together, they are responsible for the movies most fun scene – a bullet removal act featuring cheap wine and a dog toy. The remaining ensemble is well-matched and each couple is as important as the others, especially Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury as bickering teenage-sweethearts who fall out over a game of ‘never have I ever’. Jesse Plemons steals the show, however, with his deadpan and frankly hilarious cop Gary – a man still clinging to the memory of his ex-wife, who left him years before, and smarting at his exclusion from the weekly game nights that his neighbours host.
It’s a well-written movie, with plenty of on the nose gags that worked well (i.e. the unbreakable glass tables). The humour, for the most part, was well-received and did the job – consistently remaining at a solid level for the entire movie. As the story hurtled on, it lost its way slightly as the action and absurdity began to overshadow proceedings and the final throes weren’t on the same level as the rest of the movie.
If you want to chill out with a massive tub of popcorn and have some fun, Game Night will work for you. It’s fun but flawed, and silly, but sometimes stupid. Bateman and McAdams are great together (surely, to be expected given their talents?) and Plemons is the standout performer of the movie. The messages about loving relationships and the joys of parenthood (at times!) are prevalent and provide a nice flavour to the movie without ever taking over. Roll the dice on Game Night and you’ll be glad you did.
February 28th 2018