Sunday 10 June 2018

Movie Review: Game Night (2018)

An adventure comedy thriller, Game Night generates plenty of laughs in the story of real crime (maybe) intruding on a fun night, but also carries on its plot acrobatics for too long.

Max and Annie (Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams) are a games-loving married couple, yet to have children. They regularly host game nights with their married friends Kevin and Michelle (Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury), as well as bachelor Ryan (Billy Magnussen), who always brings along a different stunningly hot date. Max and Annie pointedly exclude inviting creepy next-door neighbour Gary (Jesse Plemons), a widowed police officer.

Max's ultra successful brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) arrives in town and hosts the next game night, promising an epic experience. Max is psychologically cowed by Brooks, who wins at everything he does. For this night Ryan brings along the smart Sarah (Sharon Horgan) as his date to increase his chance of winning. Brooks describes the game for the night as a mock kidnapping adventure. When first an FBI agent arrives with a warning and then real thugs storm the house and abduct Brooks, the group believe it all part of the game, but gradually realize that something really bad is going on.

Co-directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein and written by Mark Perez, Game Night is an amiable madcap comedy, maximizing laughs from a frantic premise and making the most out of a willing cast. The game-gone-wrong theme is combined with just enough character conflicts to enhance the entertainment. Max and Annie are having trouble conceiving, and the issues blocking Max from letting go and embracing the next stage of life play a role in his relationship with the game and his inability to deal with Brooks' success.

Less successful is a contrived and prolonged argument between Kevin and Michelle, where he insists on finding out which celebrity she admits to once sleeping with. This subplot is at the level of a television sitcom and is never as funny as Perez seems to believe it is.

Also weak is the film's resolution, where the game and reality collide. Game Night does not quite know when to quit, and abstract criminal characters (real or not) like the Bulgarian (Michael C. Hall) and Marlon Freeman (Danny Huston) gate crash the party along with an assortment of real-or-pretend goons, leading to a disjointed tone and plot fragments all over the place.

But with Bateman and McAdams an appealing and well-balanced central couple, Daley and Goldstein do conjure up some terrific and hilarious set-pieces, including a small white dog drenched in blood and a game of catch with a precious Fabergé egg. And every scene featuring next-door grieving police officer Gary is a classic, with slow zooms used to maximize Jesse Plemons' on-the-edge-of-reason performance.

Game Night eventually overplays its hand, but provides worthwhile amusement along the way.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome reader comments about this post.