Game Night (2018)
Directed by: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
Written by: Mark Perez
Starring: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Sharon Horgan, Billy Magnussen, Lamoren Morris, Kylie Bunbury, Jesse Plemons
We have all been here before, sitting around a couch our table, a stiff drink in our hand, surrounded by family and friends, ready to demolish them in Pictionary or Scrabble, a good, old-fashioned game night. But what if your weekly Monopoly match turned into something much more dark, sinister and violent? This is what happens to uber competitive couple Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) as their beloved couples game night is highjacked by Max’s over the top brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler) who turns their night of friendly competition into one of kidknappings, car chases and gunplay. Instead of a quiet night of charades, Max, Annie and their group of friends now think they are involved in an intense murder, mystery game but things may be a bit more real than they initially expected as Brooks’ past decides to become a new player on the board.
Game Night is an R rated comedy that blends genres to bring you a fun, twist, filled experience that will inspire you to start your own night of competition with your friends. You’ll have a hard time not loving the cast of Game Night as they are the film’s strongest aspects. Each couple plays their parts with hilarious results as Game Night allows even its supporting actors to have significant character growth as we bounce from couple to couple on their journey to win the game. My favorite coupling was Ryan (Billy Magnussen); the super handsome, dumb as rocks playboy, who brings Sara (Sharon Horgan), a much older but smarter woman as his date this time around, hoping she will give him a winning edge. Their banter is excellent as these exact opposites play well off each other and we get to see them slowly and reluctantly fall for one another. Each couple not only participates in the main story but they also get their own B, story which really keeps the movie moving at a steady pace and at no point do you feel like it begins to drag. In fact, most of the funny moments come from the couples and them coming to terms with their personal challenges as opposed to those presented by the “game.”
Despite the excellence of the supporting cast Batman and McAdams really play well together in Game Night and dare I say this may be one of McAdams funniest roles. She plays the innocent, do-gooder so well and is able to sell some of the best jokes thanks to her “oh gosh” attitude. Bateman is Bateman and is charming as funny as ever but don’t expect more than usual from the always hilarious actor. The real show stealer though is Officer Gary (Jesse Plemons), as his characters deadpan, creepy delivery makes for some very funny moments and is a great counter to our bubbly cast.
Game Night offers more than most action comedies as it serves up a number of twists and turns and plays with the idea of a game night in some very unexpected ways. The story could have easily become a clinched mess but directing duo John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein are able to keep you on the edge of your seats and laughing the whole way through. There are more than a few times Game Night will make you jump and gasp as these directors toy with tension and comedy throughout the course of the film. Even though Game Night is a lot of fun and a solid genre melding comedy, my biggest complaint with is it doesn’t go far enough in any direction. The action is light and not overly intense, with its high point coming in the third act as the real villain finally emerges. The comedy for an R rated venture feels very PG-13 and minus a few F-Bombs this could have easily been an adventure for a wider audience. I feel Game Night should have leaned a bit harder into its R rating and really turned up the violence, blood, and raunchy humor. If often feels like its teetering the line of its R rating but doesn’t go far enough and instead just feels like a basic comedy at times. Moving it more towards a hard R may have really set this apart from other action comedies and made it that much more memorable.
Game Night is a good time at the movies thanks to a charming, delightful cast and a story that offers plenty of twists and turns to keep you invested. It doesn’t quite take its humor or plot far enough and will likely be regulated to an okay comedy when it could have been so much more.