Reading that Game Night is by the same guys that brought you Horrible Bosses may seem not sound like a selling point, and you could be forgiven in running as fast as you can in the opposition direction, but please, don’t let it put you off.
Game Night is a (moderately) witty, self-aware, screwball comedy with enough titters and twists to keep you entertained to the end. John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein may have fallen short on Horrible Bosses (they only wrote the screenplay) but prove to be a winning combination in the director’s chair.
Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) are an uber competitive board game enthusiast couple whose weekly game nights have become a lively distraction to their ongoing debate about whether to start a family and Max’s ‘disappointing’ sperm count.
However, everything soon comes crashing down like a game of Tumbling Monkey’s when Max’s filthy rich older brother Brooks shows up in a red Stingray and throws his own murder mystery game night in what becomes the ultimate game of one-upmanship.
A night of whodunnit fakery then turns into a real life kidnapping as a group of thugs gatecrash the party and capture Brooks. What then follows is a wild, incident littered caper as the couple and their eclectic group of friends try to meet the demands of the thugs and slowly discover why Brooks was taken.
Yes, there are some scenes that are predictable – there’s one particularly gorgonzola moment involving a game of Pictionary – however the movie manages to throw up some surprising twists and droll one liners to push it past the mediocre mark. Several jokes are notable for the spot on cultural commentary neatly combined with some solid physical comedy from the cast. Jason Bateman is always a reliable comedic presence and together with McAdams the chemistry is palpable.
One hilariously stand out scene involving rubber gloves, tweezers, a squeaky burger toy and bullet removal really showcases this chemistry and is a real joy to watch. It’s refreshing to see McAdam’s Annie come to life as much more than just the whiny wife sidekick and instead have an equal share of the jokes and the action. None of the supporting cast go to waste either; cop and neighbourhood weirdo Gary (Jesse Plemons) is a standout as the guy nobody wants to invite since his wife left him and Sharon Horgan is hilariously sardonic as the accidental date of dimwit Ryan (Billy Magnussen).
Game Night isn’t a movie that’s gunning for anything groundbreaking but that’s okay. It’s an easy, entertaining 100 minutes with some exemplary scripted humour and well rounded characters. Behind the laughs is Max and Annie’s relationship, their struggle in starting a family and fears for the future and subsequently a reason to care about the characters. There are plenty of movies out there if you’re looking for something a little more intellectually rigorous but if you’re just wanting a good time, go see Game Night.
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