Originally written for Cinemaaxis.com
An enjoyable twist on the murder/mystery genre, Game Night takes a simple premise and turns it into anything but. A small group of friends, shockingly, enjoy game nights. Of course this particular night contains no normal game; someone will be kidnapped, and the rest of the group will need to survive while finding the victim via clues left by FBI agents.
The story is centered around a strong but extremely competitive couple, Max (Patrick Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams), who met at a trivia night; this trip back to their first meeting to marriage is extremely brisk, which is appreciated from a audience perspective, as directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein are more interest in establishing the unhealthy competitiveness between the two.
Bateman’s Max is the type of character he played in Arrested Development for three seasons, and went back for another. Well intentioned but often unintentionally passive-aggressive. A polite nature that betrays the person he really is. But really, he is a nice guy who puts up with a ton of shit because, well hey, its family, right?
McAdams’ competitive energy matches Bateman, but Bateman steals most scenes as this character seems written for him. However, both characters’ quirks and their relationship are explored as we learn that stress could be a problem for Max, and his sperm, as his brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) is coming to town, who he understandably hates; Brooks humiliates him in front of close friends and one-ups him at every opportunity. We get to know them well, extremely well considering how little we learn about their friends. But this is a comedy, the characters don’t need a ton of depth if they make you laugh. And for the most part, they do.
Outside this circle of friends, due to his wife passing away is Gary, who Max goes to great lengths to hide the game nights from. After we first meet Gary this is instantly understandable- at first it seems like Jesse Plemons is over-doing the ‘creepy neighbour’ bit- until it becomes so over-the-top it becomes clear that his character is simply there for more humour. His mannerisms and way of talking are incredibly bizarre and exaggerated, making for a type of humour not dissimilar to Get Out; in that the almost alien behaviour of Gary is so embellished that it is hard not to smile or chuckle.
Despite focusing mainly on comedy, the action scenes, while not plentiful, are very well done. A fight scene is well choreographed while also being funny, while other serious situations again involve some well shot action- still maintaining a level of humour. Its quite the feat and one of the best horror/thriller/comedy hybrids yet. We need more dark humour, and this film is a great place to go to calm your appetite. Not only that, this flick is damned fun.
Scrabble? Drinking games? Charades?! Who needs even video games when the host of the party accurately states to his guests: “You will not know what is real and not real”. And neither will you; Game Night hides its cards well, and will, fingers crossed, give the most annoying ‘I knew that would happen’ movie-goers an aneurysm.
One short of a sixer. A perfect Fun February flick
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