Bateman and McAdams star as Max and Annie, whose weekly couples game night gets kicked up a notch when Max’s charismatic brother, Brooks (Chandler), arranges a murder mystery party, complete with fake thugs and faux federal agents. So when Brooks gets kidnapped, it’s all part of the game – right? But as the six uber-competitive gamers set out to solve the case and win, they begin to discover that neither this game – nor Brooks – are what they seem to be. Over the course of one chaotic night, the friends find themselves increasingly in over their heads as each twist leads to another unexpected turn. With no rules, no points, and no idea who all the players are, this could turn out to be the most fun they’ve ever had… or game over.
A studio comedy released in February? History would show that a film with this material would fail as it stretches a simple idea into a 100 minute gagfest. Thankfully that isn’t the case with Game Night as it offers up non stop comedy courtesy of the wacky ensemble. Directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, Game Night features some of the best comedy direction in years as they pull out all the stops, from impressive camerawork to unique opening and closing title sequences.
The cast fires on all cylinders as each character gets an opportunity in the spotlight. Jason Bateman’s monotone snark has never worked better and Rachel McAdams reminds us all that she’s still funny. Kyle Chandler plays the arrogant brother brilliantly as he toys with his younger brother, played by Bateman. Billy Magnussen once again does the dumb blonde to perfection thanks to his characters imperfections. The standout of the film is Jesse Plemons, the cop who happens to be the most terrifying next door neighbour possible.
Moments in the film are dark but played off as comedy due to the reactions of the characters. This is most prominent in the third act when the film jumps the shark. The film goes to outrageous places you never thought were possible thanks to a simple game night with friends. Despite the third act hiccup, Game Night is a pleasant surprise to start 2018 thanks to it being consistently funny and featuring a cast full of naturally funny people. The film takes a lot of chances that for the most part payoff, from the pulse pounding Cliff Martinez score (Drive, Spring Breakers) to the unexpected action set pieces. Game Night is a studio comedy that excels thanks to the talent in front of and behind the camera.