Game Night Review
All the (game) pieces are nicely packaged in this slick and stylish murder-mystery
When a routine game night takes a mad turn down a slippery slope, competitive couple Annie and Max get stuck into some crazy gun wielding, breaking and entering action.When was the last time you turned off the TV, put your phone down and indulged in some good clean fun? For Annie (Rachel McAdams) and Max (Jason Bateman) every Friday evening becomes Game Night. The couple bonded and eventually cemented their relationship over their extreme competitiveness and a need to win, at all costs. So for them, Game Night is not only a chance to see their close friends, fellow married couple Michelle (Kylie Bunbury) and Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and single pal Ryan (Billy Magnussen) and his endless string of arm candy for the night, but it is also a night to demonstrate their ability to win.
For Max though, his competitive streak stems way back to his relationship with his brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler), who’s been off jet-setting around the world with plenty of cash to splash. So when Brooks announces that he is going to host Game Night, understandably Annie and Max are a little skeptical. But Brooks has something special up his sleeve - a murder mystery with an awesome prize for the winner. Dubious at first, our couples go along with it only to realise that they have inadvertently become involved in a real kidnapping which will see them breaking in and out of various places, taking hostages of their own and getting caught up in an elaborate mob scandal with Brooks at the centre of it all.
On the surface Game Night looked like it was going to be another nonsense comedy, coupled with the fact that one of the selling points is that it is brought to us by the guys who did Horrible Bosses - John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. Now taking the directors chair Francis and Goldstein have brought us a film written by Mark Perez that is both smart and funny. There are some genuine laugh out loud moments which in part is thanks to the clever writing but also down to the meticulous casting. The story is forever unfolding and although it has a fairly short running time of 100 minutes, there is a whole lot jam packed into this movie.
Despite the concise running time, the script manages to round the characters out giving them each some level of backstory and giving the cast a chance to flesh their characters out which in turn makes their likability levels sky rocket. And unlike a lot of comedies which tend to forgo much of the style in favour of the laughs, Game Night fully makes us think that we are watching an actual game unfold. There is some fantastic cinematography that makes the set look like we are watching it all take place from above (like those bits in Beetlejuice) with the characters as the pieces, each taking their turn to move.
The script is superbly slick with the whole cast pulling off their parts with ease
Everyone is great in this movie. McAdams and Bateman are an on-screen duo that deliver the goods. They spark off one another and come across as people who you would want to hang out with. Likewise, Bunbury and Morris are given the opportunity to have their own time on screen which is equally as good. Magnussen’s dim but nice Ryan is pure brilliance. On the night in question he decided to give the blonde bimbo archetype a miss and actually stand a chance at winning for once by bringing the not British but Irish Sarah (Sharon Horgan) - and once again, the compatibility is on point. A definite shout out has to be given to Jesse Plemons who all but steals the show as recently divorced police officer Gary - Max and Annie’s slightly creepy next door neighbour - who feels neglected and rejected from the fun loving couples’ Game Night.
Game Night is great fun that will have you hooked from the get go - even the title sequence is enjoyable! The writing is slick and the humour caters for most tastes and there are some film buff references which add a nice touch. It’s fun and entertaining but doesn't show its hand until the very end.
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