I chose to review Game Night because I enjoy watching Jason Bateman act and because I am a giant nerd, and game nights are one of my favorite pastimes. I especially love having a group of friends who meet on a regular basis for gaming, so the set up for this movie was right up my alley. That said, I didn’t expect a whole lot from the movie. It looked like most of the gags had come out in the trailers, and I didn’t expect to hate it, but I also didn’t expect to rave about it, either. I was wrong, and I’m going to rave about the film. Game Night was far better than it had any right to be. The acting was sharp and surprisingly nuanced, and there was a lot more to the movie than I expected.
Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) are a gaming power couple. They meet during a pub trivia night and find that their competitive natures mesh well. Romance blossoms and they seem to be winning the game of life. There’s a small snag, though. They’re trying to have a baby, and apparently, some feelings of stress and inadequacy on Max’s part seem to be derailing Max’s ticket to ride.
We find out that Max has always felt outdone by his brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler), who seems to have gotten a monopoly on the looks and success between the two brothers. And bingo, Brooks comes in from out of town to join Max and Annie for their weekly game night. We meet Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury), the other married couple in the group, along with Ryan (Billy Magnussen), who has a tendency to bring vapid, younger women as his dates. After Brooks proves himself to be the mastermind of the evening, he invites everyone to his rental house for the following week’s game night. All this while trying to avoid one of the creepiest neighbors ever, Gary (Jesse Plemons) who does a smash up job in this role.
The evening begins at Brooks’ home, and there’s magic in this gathering. He warns that everyone is at risk, and this night’s game will be no trivial pursuit. He’s arranged for a murder mystery, but the operation turns sour as a real kidnapping interrupts the fun, and the group has no clue. As the group figures out the trouble they are in, the plot unfolds, and they have to their craniums to piece together this puzzle and save Brooks’ life before the dominoes fall.
As I mentioned earlier, Game Night is working much better than it seems like it should. The story has several twists to it that make it just as much a suspense/thriller type movie as it is a comedy. But the dialogue is fantastic as well. I’m going to have to see this movie again because the audience was laughing so long and hard, that there are many bits that were missed.
Bateman delivers a great performance, and he and Rachel McAdams really work well together. Kylie Bunbury and Lamorne Morris are also fun to watch, as they weave in a marital argument throughout the film. As wonderful as everyone else is, Jesse Plemons’ turn as the unintentionally creepy next door neighbor is brilliantly done. A mix of awkward and downright unsettling, which makes you feel just as bad for him, as you are uncomfortable around him.
The cinematography really shines as well, with well-executed tilt-shift filming which makes the real-life sets look like miniatures. I may be biased because that’s a photographic style that I love to see and every scene in which it was used really popped for me. It could also have been really gimmicky, but, like the other aspects of the film, it just worked.
I highly recommend seeing Game Night, it is a LOT of fun and a wonderful surprise of quality that one might not expect. You don’t even need to be a giant nerd to appreciate it, but that might help you find all the game titles that I used in the description. Happy gaming!
About Game Night
Synopsis: A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves trying to solve a murder mystery.
Directors: John Francis and Jonathan Goldstein
Writer: Mark Perez
Stars: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler
Runtime: 1 Hour, 40 Minutes