Game Night Review: Ridiculously funny and fun
Sharp writing and a cast with great comic timing elevate this unpretentious black comedy and turn it into a very enjoyable watch
Game Night had me laughing out loud more than once. It has some very clever writing (by Mark Perez), but make no mistake, this is not sophisticated comedy. A lot of it falls into the category of dumb jokes, but who cares when you have a cast with such wonderful comic timing. Jason Bateman (Max) and Rachel McAdams (Annie) play an ultra-competitive couple who love their games and trivia. They regularly host game nights for their group of friends. Max's brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler), who is equally competitive, comes to town and decides to up the ante by hiring a murder mystery company to stage a very real-seeming kidnapping for a game night. And, of course, things go wrong and the group find themselves in the midst of an actual mystery.
Directors: John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein
Cast: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Jesse Plemons
Bateman and McAdams are a treat to watch and completely sell us on the couple's relationship with their chemistry. And they're tremendously funny. There's one bullet removal scene which is a total hoot, and the charades sequence (and its outcome) when the duo are being hunted by the bad guys will have you chuckling away merrily. The supporting cast is equally delightful, and what's nice is that they're not just used as props. Everyone gets their space and character development, and even complete mini-arcs. The story also has more than one twist. and some heavy-duty action that could easily fit into a Liam Neeson film (Taken even gets an explicit reference). That they managed to pack all of this into just 100 minutes is proof of that clever writing I mentioned earlier. This is very much a Hollywood comedy, but I was reminded most of the British comedy Hot Fuzz.
Oh, and when talking about the cast, Jesse Plemons deserves a very special mention. He plays the couple's next-door neighbour, a creepy cop, obsessed with his ex-wife, who wants to be a part of the game nights. His awkward interactions with Max and Annie, who desperately try to hide their evening plans in order to not invite him, are some of the best parts of the movie. Dexter-fame Michael C Hall makes an appearance also and has a lot of fun playing a baddie.
The filmmaking is quite slick and I especially liked the overhead establishing shots which resemble board games. There's also an amusing end credit sequence, involving Plemons' character, that I recommend sticking around for. Sure, the jokes may not all work, and if you think about it, there are logical loopholes aplenty. But this really isn't the sort of film you should be thinking hard about. Like a game night, it's all about having some light-hearted, jolly fun. And that, Game Night delivers. In spades.