Game Night is a comedy thriller from directors John Francis Daley and Jonathon Goldstein.
It follows a group of 6 friends, more or less, that regularly indulge themselves in get togethers where they play a number of fun games such as Charades and Scrabble. The hosts of game night are Max and Annie, played by Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, that are competitive game fans that take their love of games right through their marriage.
There is a sub plot about the couple trying for a baby, that is stuffed into the narrative to make the characters more 3 dimensional – a tactic used by the writers for all the major players in the screenplay. When Bateman’s more impressive, more successful, more rich brother rolls into town, he plans a game night of his own, one that will supersede anything Max and Annie have ever hosted, and when our cast arrives at his luxury apartment they are told that over the course of the evening, someone will be abducted, and the others have to find them, with the winners receiving a car as a prize.
The trailer will inform you that chaos ensues when a real kidnapping is initiated but the characters assume it’s all part of the game night, so they are non plussed by events, playing along with the scene, and eating from the cheese board while brother Brooks is attacked by two masked men, takes part in a violent fight scene with them and is eventually kidnapped. With Brooks gone the others set to the task of winning a car.
Cue the slow burn realization that something else may be going on and the plot unfolds with the three teams of two splitting up and trying to figure out what is going on.
The story sort of reminded me of David Fincher’s 1997 film The Game, the concept is similar, however Game Night is very much a comedy, and luckily the writers make sure that’s where the focus of this feature lies because the whole concept is of course ridiculous.
There are moments where the characters find themselves in situations so extraordinary that it’s hard to suspend belief, however the cast do their job and somehow carry it off.
When Max is shot in the arm, Annie has to go to the drug store to find the necessary tools to remove the bullet from his arm. She slices open the wound and then has to sow it back up with a needle and thread, while Max stuffs a squeaky dog toy in his mouth to avoid screaming. It’s a funny scene, despite the gore, but just plain silly.
As the story finds a few twists and turns along the way, you find yourself caught up in the action. It has a brisk pace and there are a few good laughs. The final reel brings everything together, and to be fair you probably see most of it coming, but it doesn’t detract too much from the viewing experience.
The budget seems to be eaten up in an action sequence at an airport that the characters themselves reference while it’s happening. It’s one of a handful of film references that run through the screenplay as the writers keep reminding themselves that there’s no point trying to hide cliche in a comedy romp such as this.
Game Night is a fun watchable comedy that will entertain you on a wet March movie night. It knows what it is, and does it’s best to tell a quirky story with thrills and comedy.
There are some funny set pieces and by the end you don’t really care too much about what’s actually going on. Grab your popcorn and zone out!