Game Night

Review by Hannah Woodhead @goodjobliz

Directed by

John Francis Daley Jonathan Goldstein

Starring

Jason Bateman Jesse Plemons Kyle Chandler Rachel McAdams

Anticipation.

Didn’t Shawn Levy already make this film and call it Date Night?

Enjoyment.

Silly, but has the decency to be very fun at the same time.

In Retrospect.

Beats a game of Risk any day.

Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams’ weekly board game night takes a turn for the worse in this playful action comedy.

Isn’t it nice when a film surprises you? Say when you find yourself chuckling merrily as Rachel McAdams haplessly tries to extract a bullet from Jason Bateman’s arm while a banging Cliff Martinez synth extravaganza blasts away in the background. Such is the magic of cinema.

In Game Night, Bateman and McAdams are Max and Annie, a fiercely competitive couple of unspecified occupation who live for the weekly social events they host for their friends, in which they play – you guessed it! – board games. Of course, beneath their perfect facade, the couple are facing their own problems, from Max’s potential infertility to swerving their creepy neighbour Gary (played by Jesse Plemons, naturally). But they try to not let these issues mess with Monopoly.

A visit from Max’s brother (Kyle Chandler) creates tension among the group, as he suggests a new game with altogether higher stakes – a cross between Taken and a murder mystery party. The film’s trailer admittedly sets out what’s to come, but there’s still a whole heap of fun to be had in getting to Game Night’s neat conclusion. This is largely down to the cast, with Bateman and McAdams gamely supported by Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury. Each couple gets their own piece of the figurative story pie, and each makes the most of it.

The star of the show, however, has to be Jesse Plemons. He puts in a memorably turn as Max and Annie’s police officer neighbour, who has been unceremoniously dumped from Game Night and wants back in. Armed with his menacing glare and an adorable West Highland Terrier, he steals every scene he’s in.

Directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (whose next project is Flashpoint for DC/Warner Bros) make the most of a fairly middling script. Thought has clearly gone into the staging of the film, with some nice overhead camera shots painting the suburban neighbourhood like a Monopoly board, and Martinez’s score lending a Drive-style gravitas to proceedings.

For the most part the film manages to avoid straying too far into slapstick territory, and although many of the jokes appear in the film’s trailer, they still land within the context of the film. Is it silly? Yes. Is it the most fun you’ll have at a cinema this week? Also yes. Game Night knows exactly what it is, and that’s no bad thing. Turn up, sit back, and enjoy 100 minutes of solid action-comedy.

Published 28 Feb 2018

Tags: Jason Bateman Jesse Plemons Rachel McAdams

Anticipation.

Didn’t Shawn Levy already make this film and call it Date Night?

Enjoyment.

Silly, but has the decency to be very fun at the same time.

In Retrospect.

Beats a game of Risk any day.

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