Game Night

I’ve had such bad luck with comedies lately that I saw this trailer with nothing but dread and skepticism. Of course I saw it anyway, but only because many of my reliable film buddies made it sound relatively watchable. And I’m happy to say they’re right. This is no comedic gem, no future cult classic, probably not even a movie you’ll discuss or remember with any fondness or clarity on the car ride home. But it is a solid movie with some laughs and an unexpectedly great performance by Jesse Plemmons – that alone is worth the watch.

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Annie (Rachel McAdams) and Max (Jason Bateman) are famous among their friends for hosting ultra-competitive game nights. It’s the best part of everyone’s week, and the only blemish is having to hide them from creepy next door neighbour Gary (Jesse Plemmons) who’s been disinvited ever since he and his wife split up. But a new blemish has popped up in the form of Max’s big brother (and the source of his low self-esteem and sperm count), Brooks (Kyle Chandler). Brooks is rich and successful and has never lost at anything, ever. Max can barely stand to be around him. So when Brooks proposes the latest in rich-guy game nights, the incredibly realistic murder mystery, with Max’s dream car up for grabs by the winner, you bet every single one of them is raring to go.

Except of course it’s possible that the game gets intersected with some real kidnap and murder shit that’s all but impossible to sort out. And Annie and Max keep playing the game with criminals who really aren’t.

McAdams, nearly 40, and especially Bateman, who is pushing 50, are a little old to be playing the young couple who’s only now wondering about starting a family, but the directors are confident they’re believably 30-somethings, so go with it. It’s also kind of difficult to believe that their group of friends are actually somehow friends, but go with that too. Stick it out for Jesse Plemmons. Watch and see if he cracks a smile even once, though he’s playing the most absurd character on screen.

There’s some memorable flair to the direction (I liked the establishing shots), and it mostly stays away from the groan-inducing lowest-common-denominator stuff that seems to be the bulk of comedy scripts lately. The cast is solid (McAdams in particular looks like she’s having fun), the premise is fairly fresh, and it’s a pretty entertaining night at the cinema.

 

 

Do you and your friends get together for game night?

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33 thoughts on “Game Night

  1. Sean

    Glad you mentioned the director’s flair. I liked that the establishing shots of the neighbourhood sort of looked like a board game.
    And yes, Jesse Plemons and his dog were terrific. It was a cut above most recent comedies, that’s for sure!

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  2. Christopher

    The premise for this strikes me as one of those “Why didn’t someone think of this sooner?” kind of things. I’ve had game nights with some very competitive friends where, in retrospect, it’s remarkable that no one got murdered.
    I know some of them would have liked to kill me

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  3. raysofsunshine779

    I thought it was going to just be another bad fail comedy. Like they were trying to hard, and they were; however it was fresh and enjoyable. I think that the other movie date night options may have also had something to do with it. I was not very excited to go to it, but like I said, I liked it!

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  4. Henry Chamberlain

    Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman as a young couple is pushing it. I guess you shave off as many years as possible in Hollywood suspension of disbelief. However, they are the perfect age for the reality that is a typical staple of Americana, the wretched game night.

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  5. Kariyanine

    Great review.

    It was the exact kind of film I needed this past weekend. Stupid, absurd, and over the top but lighthearted and funny to the point I laughed throughout most of it. Will I remember it in a month, probably not but I don’t regret spending my time with it.

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  6. Liz A.

    Okay, I might check this out when it makes it to TV. But what passes for comedy nowadays rarely piques my interest. Mostly, I find myself groaning a lot.

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  7. Snoskred

    I just became a huge Jason Bateman fan thanks to Ozark on Netflix, which I highly recommend if you have not seen it yet. That was an incredible performance from him, Laura Linney and also one of my long time favourites Esai Morales. I actually think it was on a par with Breaking Bad. They spent quite a bit of time putting the puzzle pieces on the table, and then they just took a hammer to everything, it was brilliant. πŸ™‚

    I might watch this, because I am also a big fan of Jesse Plemons. It has literally been years since I found any comedy movies funny, so this gives me momentary hope. πŸ™‚

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yeah, probably the funniest movies for me last year were The Big Sick, which was only half a comedy, but a really strong half, and The Disaster Artist.

      I tried to give Ozark a chance but I think I dropped it after just one episode. I guess I’ll have to give it another try!

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  8. Brittani

    I immediately wrote this off when I saw the trailer but reviews have been swaying me a bit. I’ll probably check it out on DVD. Plemmons sounds amusing, he’s actually what’s selling this for me.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yeah, it’s still not anything truly special, I guess it’s just a nice surprise for a comedy not to completely suck sometimes. It’s been a while.

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  9. Arionis

    Spot on with this review. I went to see it last week not really expecting much but thinking it was a good enough excuse to drink beer and eat pizza. I ended up spraying a bit of both a few times from the unexpected laughter.

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  10. J.

    Mnah. I’ve seen the trailer for this (hard to avoid!) and it did nothing for me. Dare say I’ll see it if it crops up on Netflix.

    As for game night, does the odd video game night count?

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  11. sportsattitudes

    I came into this one with admittedly higher expectations than I probably should have. I’m a big Bateman fan and I liked the premise. I came away from this one a bit disappointed, but still can put it in the “liked” column. Don’t know anyone who does the game night thing…unless you count watching games (i.e. sports)!

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  12. Lloyd Marken

    Rachel McAdams is 25 and can play a young couple. Jason Bateman looks good for his age and we can knock ten years off for the period where his career was dead. πŸ™‚ I’m actually interested in this because I really like McAdams. Nice review.

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