FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: “Game Night” stars Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses, Bad Words), Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls, Southpaw), Kyle Chandler (Super 8, Manchester by the Sea), Billy Magnussen (Into the Woods, No Time to Die), Lamorne Morris (New Girl [TV series], Sandy Wexler), Kylie Bunbury (Pitch [TV series], Big Sky [TV series]), Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe [TV series], This Way Up [TV series]), Jesse Plemons (The Power of the Dog, The Irish Man), and Michael C. Hall (Dexter [TV series], Gamer). It is directed by John Francis Daley (Vacation , Dungeons & Dragons ) and Jonathan Goldstein (In the Dark [TV series], Vacation ), with the screenplay being written by Mark Perez (Accepted, Herbie Fully Loaded).
When Max (Bateman) and his group of friends are invited to his brother’s house for a game night, things take an unexpected turn when his brother is kidnapped.
What happens when you play a game where someone gets kidnapped… but they actually get kidnapped? In the case of “Game Night,” chaos, confusion, and comedy ensues.
Jason Bateman comedies are fun watches for me. His sarcastic wit transfers to every film he participates in, and I find it to be funny more often than not. He plays a competitive gamer (not video games, mind you) named Max who loves to destroy the people he is with in any game night he holds. Out of all the characters I have seen Bateman play, I believe I relate most to this one. Something about competing against someone revvs me up; I become more focused and determined. Seeing Bateman take great pride in winning a game of Fishbowl struck a chord with me, and I knew I would enjoy the ride.
The ensemble to this is quite large, with a solid cast of funny people to keep the ride entertaining. Rachel McAdams stars opposite Bateman, and it’s hard not to love her. She compliments Bateman well when they are stuck in do-or-die situations (her having to sew up his wound was one of the best parts), and even on her own she carried scenes. Other notable performers in this are Kyle Chandler as Bateman’s brother (very fun role) and Jesse Plemons, who steals the show as Max and Annie’s (McAdams) weird cop neighbor, Gary. I have never seen him play such a different role and he knocked it out of the park. Clearly one of the biggest attributes to this movie.
“Game Night” works in many areas, as the storyline is riddled with funny, crazy situations to keep you entertained. Throughout the narrative, we juggle between three pairs of the friends, as they follow clues to find where Max’s brother was taken (of course, they don’t know that this isn’t a game). There are pairs that aren’t as engaging as others, and jokes that don’t land, but for the most part it’s a well-written movie. Mark Perez does a good job in creating a string for the characters to follow, and twists and turns to keep the audience on their toes (while at the same time penning some humorous dialogue). The directing pair of Daley and Goldstein take it a step further with a style that isn’t just serviceable. My favorite part has to be the opening sequence where Max and Annie first met; the montage scene was so fun, and I loved the cinematography that captured it all.
There’s not much more to say when it comes to these kind of flicks. The team could’ve easily made a lazy comedy that sold itself on fowl jokes that missed or than hit, but instead they settled on making the mystery trail the priority. It works, and they were smart to place their eggs in that basket. Ultimately, the comedy is left to the characters in reaction to the situation they are in. It’s as if we are witnessing people like us getting thrown into a crime investigation; this lends to funny moments that stick and performances that are actually award-worthy (primarily Plemons). I wouldn’t say it’s Bateman’s best, or the best comedy out there, but it is recommendable. Not only as a comedy, but as a film in general. FINAL SCORE: 86%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: