A film like Game Night lives for the absurd and unexpected. Pushing the audience to the limits of plausibility, yet somehow avoiding jumping the shark in the process. It does its best to show the audience a good time, all while throwing in laugh out loud plot twists and a variety of comedy styles (including deadpan, dark, situational, and even occasional gross-out comedy).
Game Night focuses on the characters of Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams), who are as competitive as individuals could possibly get. Frequently dominating the game nights they host for their friend group, Max and Annie are surprised when Max’s overachieving brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) comes to visit. Brooks decides to give hosting a try and sets up a murder mystery party with fake criminals and FBI agents. However, as the game wears on and its participants compete to solve the mystery, they all discover that it’s not a game at all, and that their lives are in real danger. Leading to one wild chain of events and worst possible outcomes imaginable.
The film quickly proved to be more comedically intelligent than I would’ve anticipated, as jokes set up early on as one-offs would turn out to be well-crafted, long-running gags that span the length of the movie, and they all work. Occasionally a bit will be off the mark or badly timed, but the film moves so fast that there really isn’t time to fixate on the poor slices of humor.
The ceaseless bickering of our two leads is carried out with such finesse, such authenticity, that I found their performances particularly noteworthy for that very reason. They fire back and forth at one another in this passive-aggressive tone that really worked given the actors and scenarios. In one scene, after Jason Bateman is shot in the forearm, Rachel McAdams is forced to perform an impromptu surgery on him in a back alley. What ensues is so ridiculous, gross, and perfectly timed that I wouldn’t dare ruin it here.
And while the cast plays off the circumstances of the story quite wonderfully, the true star of Game Night is indeed the plot, which was so far-fetched that I certainly had no idea where it would go next. Often films try to immerse the moviegoer into the experience, as if they were part of the movie. Here, the moviegoer is more an innocent bystander watching the madness unfold, all to our sick sadistic pleasure.
I enjoyed Game Night in all its twists, turns, and various comedic ventures. I was constantly kept on my toes awaiting the next set of crazy plot twists or weird attempt at humor. Game Night was a much more exciting and all-around better film than I would’ve ever expected, and I can’t really argue with that.
The Verdict: B