Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, Kyle Chandler
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At the end of the day, it is uproariously funny – and that’s pretty much all we’re looking for…
Ok people, so Game Night isn’t winning any Oscars. There is however a little more than meets the eye with this seemingly run-of-the-mill flick.
Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie’s (Rachel McAdams) weekly game night gets kicked up a notch when Max’s successful and charismatic brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) arranges a highly realistic murder mystery party – complete with fake thugs and federal agents. So, when Brooks gets kidnapped, it’s all supposed to be part of the game. As the competitors set out to solve the case, they start to learn that neither the game nor Brooks are what they seem. The group soon find themselves in over their heads as each twist leads to another unexpected turn over the course of one chaotic night.
Initially, all the obvious tropes you’d usually find in a film like this have you thinking that Game Night is your standard, garden variety, beige rom-com. The goofy white suburban couple, living their middle-class life in a pretty suburban house, trying to have a kid while maintaining their current friends-over-for-wine-and-cheese lifestyle. And to be fair, it kind of is… but in a really surprising and original way.
What’s perhaps most refreshing here is the quirky genre mixing. What starts out as a typical rom-com then gets tied up with moments of horror, crime and drama – all wrapped in what is ultimately a pretty funny comedy. Here, directors John Francis Daley (Sam from Freaks and Geeks!) and Jonathan M. Goldstein (collectively, directors of Vacation, writers of Horrible Bosses) do a damn fine job in giving this type of film a bit of reinvention, also using some creative editing and CGI skills to give scene and location transitions a boardgame/game-piece like feel. It’s unexpected and adds another layer of kitsch to the proceedings.
Game Night is not only visually interesting from a genre perspective, it also has some killer narrative twists and turns. Written by Mark Perez, the story takes strange detours, and while not all of them hit the mark, it’s at least an interesting ride.
Perez’ writing chops however, don’t quite hold up in the character department. Each of our main players (pun-intended) are a bit thin on the ground. These characters lack depth and are shoehorned into archetypes so carelessly that you find it hard to be on their side – or even care what happens to them.
Luckily, none of that matters, because the cast is so funny that their hollowness doesn’t actually count. While each of the performers get a chance to bring the laughs – and succeed – it’s Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman who do the comedic heavy lifting. Both are consistently hilarious, which might have something to do with the strength of their chemistry – seriously, the combo here is magic.
Again, Game Night isn’t here for awards season, but it should definitely get points for at least thinking outside the box. At the end of the day, it is uproariously funny – and that’s pretty much all we’re looking for with these kinds of films, right?