Game Night stars Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as Max and Annie, a hyper-competitive couple when it comes to home gaming, in the old board game and Charades sense, who always want to win. But when Max’s successful brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) comes to visit, things get turned up a notch (to the ‘Max’ I presume?) after he arranges a murder-mystery night complete with fake FBI agents and a kidnapping but it’s all fictional… right?! Well, no, because Brooks has been kidnapped for real and it’s going to take the night to work out what’s really going on.
Co-starring Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury and Jesse Plemons, Game Night is a perfectly affable and entertaining modern comedy with in-film geek references and a license of love towards classic board games and a narrative that doesn’t take itself too seriously, somehow they get away with it as well, much like Spy or Date Night, but those latter two are a little more naturally funny for this discerning viewer.
The thing that bugged me about Game Night is the destruction of the entire premise via the initial trailer, so if you’ve not seen that one, or can’t quite remember if you did, I’d recommend going into this film blind to get more fun out of it. While it isn’t excessively spoiled by the trailer, it does give too much away but, that being said, there’s still enough here to takeaway and that’s what Game Night is really about.
What helps is a decent cast who make the chaotic situation believable in that unbelievable sense. Jason Bateman plays it Bateman, as he does these days, with a funny performance and he’s got the everyman role down to a tee, even if the scripting explains everything in an out-loud conversational sense, this is especially prevalent with the jealously of his older brother Brooks, played by the aforementioned Chandler.
Rachel McAdams shines and comes across more naturally funny because her character is uncomfortable in the role she’s being forced into and, yet, she goes with it and fully embraces the competitive edge of Annie. Our standout star is Jesse Plemons, who plays Gary, an utterly creepy neighbour who’s entertainingly disconcerting but, somehow, Plemons manages to humanise his character through some very dark sequencing that achieves an extraordinarily serious and comic creation. As well as being the one to remember, it’s McAdams, Magnussen and Horgan who bring their a-game, with those final two sparking with chemistry, even though (as you’ll learn) it’s an unusual setup.
Game Night also features some interesting directional choices from duo John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, they’ve mixed in the gaming idea even in the visuals with establishing shots that continue to reflect the board-game theme, and they’re also clearly inspired by Edgar Wright with the quick editing style that gets to the point. In that sense, the film offers longevity to their ideas and so it’d be surprising if we don’t see more clever stuff coming from them in the future.
With a few killer cameos, Game Night is a perfect weekend-style movie that you should complete with snacks, beer and fun company, a definite all-rounder and the Blu-ray features the classic Gag Reel to enjoy…oh, and a tip, don’t turn off the minute the credits roll!