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Game Night (2018) - Movie Review

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Game Night (2018) - Movie Review

Movie Review

4 starsWe all have that one friend. That over-stimulated, under-acknowledged, hyper-competitive jerk to whom everything in life is a game with an undeniable winner and a loser. There are a whole bunch of those kind in Game Night, the latest film by 2015’s Vacation reboot directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. But leading the charge are husband and wife Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) whose weekly game night challenges are ramped up to the next level in this riotously funny little farce that is a certifiable blast and guaranteed to be the best time you’ve had at the movies this year.

In Game Night we learn that Max and Annie have been trying – unsuccessfully – to have a baby. When it is suggested by their fertility doctor that Max’s “problem” stems from a lack of confidence due to a lifetime of humiliation and oneupmanship from his independently wealthy – and better looking – brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler), the couple is caught off guard when Brooks shows up unannounced to host the next game night with promises of “taking it up a notch.”

Turns out that, rather than the expected board games or game of charades or Jenga, Brooks has arranged for an elaborately-staged mystery whereby he will be kidnapped and the first of the other guests to find him will win the keys to his shiny new Stingray. Along for the challenge are married couple Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury), forever single Ryan (Billy Magnusson) and his date, a smart Irish woman named Sarah (Sharon Horgan). However, not in attendance is creepy next door neighbor Gary (Jesse Plemons) whose obsession with his ex-wife, his lapdog, and with wearing his police uniform 24-7 puts the others – as well as viewers – at unease.

Needless to say, things go haywire the minute the kidnapping takes place as the make-believe mystery becomes entangled with reality in a dangerous mess that has the gang traversing the city in a life or death struggle for survival.

Game Night’s secret to success is its whip-smart dialogue and breezy, energetic pacing from screenwriter Mark Perez who unsuccessfully tried to reboot the Herbie the Love Bug franchise back in 2005 and brought the Disney World attraction The Country Bears to life in 2002. Though he largely swung and missed with those films, he has shown a talent for constructing effective comedy and hits it big with Game Night. It is immensely funny and even quite clever at times with its tongue firmly implanted in cheek as it rolls out a near non-stop cavalcade of pop culture and movie references that beg for a second viewing. To Annie and Max, everything is a game. Fortunately, their talent for playing charades comes in handy during a dangerous shootout that will have you rolling on the floor in laughter

Directors Daley and Goldstein are never afraid to go dark with Game Night. And boy, do they! Yet neither are they above being totally absurd and silly at times, attributes that provide a pleasantly unexpected counter to some of the darker places that we’re taken. One particular scene involving a back-alley bullet removal shows us the wonderful chemistry and brilliant comedic timing between Bateman and McAdams. The comedy occasionally wanes when the entire gang share the screen together, but many of the one-on-one moments are pure comedy gold.

It is extremely difficult to get silliness, humor, raunch, action, comedy, and blood just right in a single movie. Yet, Daley and Goldstein do it with great success in Game Night. Oh, and stay through the credits for a funny little montage that ties up some of the story’s loose ends.

Yes, it’s dumb, and it’s just as silly, but roll your dice on Game Night. You’re sure to come out a winner.

 

Film Details

Game Night (2018) - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: R for language, sexual references and some violence.
Runtime: 110 mins
Director: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
Writer: Mark Perez
Cast: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler
Genre: Comedy | Crime
Tagline: This is not a game.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You have a knife in your bullet hole."
Theatrical Distributor: Warner Bros.
Official Site: Release Date: February 23, 2018
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available.
Synopsis: A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves trying to solve a murder mystery.

 

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Game Night (2018) - Movie Review

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