film & game reviews, the retro way.
John Francis Daley
Michael C. Hall
Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams star in Game Night, a dark comedy about a couple and their friends who are invited to play a new game one night, only to find that the ensuing chaos is very real and not actually part of said game.
Sort of like a cross between The Man Who Knew Too Little and Date Night with a little of The 'Burbs thrown in, Game Night takes a gimmicky, slightly derivative premise and runs with it with enough gusto to make Baby Driver jealous. For all its sillier aspects, this is a sharply written comedy that strikes a good balance between dumb and clever without losing track of its characters and why we should care about them. Max (Bateman) and Annie (McAdams), through their playfulness and competitiveness, seem to be perfect for each other and, even though some problems are revealed along the way, this is a relationship we root for throughout.
Their friends are mostly one-dimensional but they each have their moments and remain likeable despite their obvious flaws. The always good value Jesse Plemons doesn't disappoint as the police uniform-wearing, small dog-owning intimidating neighbour who desperately wants to be a part of game night.
The solid cast, which includes a few nifty cameos, makes the most of the funny lines they are given and, after a dud like Horrible Bosses 2, it's good to see Jason Bateman enjoying himself with a much better script. Rachel McAdams, who rarely stars in comedies this cartoonish, is at her best with the more visual gags as Annie handles every dangerous situation with a carefree nonchalantness that's very amusing. The humour is a bit darker than you'd expect but it's never gratuitous and it helps solidify the this-isn't-a-game motif the film toys with.
Some highlights include a scene in which Max and Annie unwittingly hold a few real gangsters at gunpoint, an unexpected Denzel Washington revelation, a shambolic bullet removal and an unfortunate sequence involving blood and a dog. While it's never original enough to truly elevate itself to something particularly memorable, Game Night ticks all the right boxes for a Friday night movie and it never stops being fun.
What could have easily been just a throwaway sub-par comedy is actually a genuinely entertaining and funny romp with an instantly appealing premise, a bunch of likeable characters and an enjoyably cheeky sense of humour.
A good time.