Game Night (2018)

  • Time: 100 min
  • Genre: Action | Comedy | Crime
  • Directors: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
  • Cast: Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, Kyle Chandler


A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves trying to solve a murder mystery.


  • Game Night is my latest review. It’s not really a black comedy for it’s too cheery for that. “Night” is more blackish, a light comedic romp.

    The laughs in Game Night aren’t of the belly variety but there’s plenty of snorts and chuckles to garner my recommendation. No one truly seems in peril despite incidents of gunshots, kidnappings, and fistfights. Basically “Night” never lets you take it too seriously. It’s wholly original buffoonery that just wants to have fun.

    Jason Bateman is in the lead. He plays yet another sad sack everyman. Bateman channels this type of role in a lot of his farces. With his congenial looks and his breakneck style of delivering lines, Game Night seems like it gives him the best, most comfortable fit. Dare I say that “Night” is the exemplary Jason Bateman vehicle.

    The story of “Night” revolves around a married couple named Max and Annie (Bateman and Rachel McAdams). Having in common an incredibly cutthroat nature, they invite other couples over for charades, board games, and plenty of chips and salsa. One weekend, everyone changes it up a bit and goes over to the house of Max’s brother (Brooks played by Kyle Chandler). Brooks decides to turn a normal “game night” into a real-life murder mystery. Just imagine a combo of violent abductions, slapstick encounters, and scavenger hunts.

    Of note: I’m not sure why “Night” has been saddled with an R rating. It’s not completely vehement, I don’t remember hearing any F words, and there’s not much in the way of sexual innuendo. I mean, a teenager wouldn’t even flinch if they saw it.

    Anyway, Game Night will resonate if you’ve seen stuff like Horrible Bosses or 1987’s Adventures in Babysitting. It has mild twists and turns and some aerial shots that actually look like objects in the game of Monopoly. “Night” also has neat closing credits that are humorous and don’t involve outtakes (that’s a refreshing change).

    A lot of the characters in “Night” spew movie references from material like The Green Mile, The Sixth Sense, Pulp Fiction, and Django Unchained. Normally, I find this adage tired and stock but surprisingly it adds to “Night’s” peppy charm.

    Bottom line: Would I call Game Night a comedy classic? Probably not but I did enjoy it. Would I say that it’s a good way to get to the theater and escape those late winter blues? Definitely. “Game on!” Rating: 3 stars.

    Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

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  • It would be all too easy to dismiss Game Night as yet another wearisome and harebrained R-rated comedy that studios have been churning out in the last decade or so. Game Night, however, directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, two of the writers of Spider-man: Homecoming, is a most pleasant surprise: a clever and lively romp that makes the most of its premise as well as its talented cast.

    Essentially a darkly comic version of David Fincher’s The Game, the film introduces viewers to Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams), two competitive gamers who fall in love at first sight during a pub trivia night. It’s not too long before they’re married and trying to have a child, but their attempts are undercut by the stress overwhelming Max at the imminent visit of his older brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) who is, as one person describes, “the Mark Wahlberg to Max’s Donnie.” Unsurprisingly, Max’s feelings of inadequacy are exacerbated as soon as Brooks arrives for one of Max and Annie’s regular game nights. Driving up in Max’s Corvette Stingray dream car, Brooks manages to embarrass his little brother at every turn, which only makes Annie determined that she and Max are victorious at the next game night, which Brooks has offered to host at his luxurious rental house.

    “This will be a game night you’ll never forget,” Brooks promises to his guests which not only include Max and Annie but their friends Michelle (Kylie Bunbury) and Kevin (Lamorne Morris), a married couple with an ongoing squabble about the celebrity she may have slept with whilst she and Kevin were on a break; and Ryan (Billy Magnussen) and his date Sarah (Sharon Horgan), who is a far cry from his usual revolving door of airheaded bimbos. Indeed, everyone is in for a wild ride as what starts off as a hyper-real interactive escape game suddenly becomes a matter of life and death when the kidnapping they all believe to be staged turns out to be the real deal. Not that any of them are aware of that, which provides many an amusing and hilarious moment as the gang blithely mingle with members of international crime ring and other seedy characters, all the while believing that these dangerous criminals are mere actors.

    Brimming with meta references and frequently subverting action comedy tropes, Game Night maintains its is-it-real-or-is-it-part-of-the-game logic with deftness and ingenuity. The filmmakers stage several excellent sequences, including a well-choreographed kitchen fight and, most particularly, a section that finds the gang playing hot potato with a priceless Fabergé egg as they evade members of a fight club in a crime boss’ fancy mansion, which is seemingly done in one long take.

    The cast are in top form, but the undisputed standout is Jesse Plemons as Gary, their next door neighbour who so desperately wants back in on game night. His deadpan performance is both eerily unsettling and highly amusing and its unpredictability – one never knows if he’s a help or a hindrance – adds yet another layer to the twisty proceedings.

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