If a movie has Jason Bateman or Rachel McAdams in the cast, it is likely that I’m going to watch it. That’s been true of Bateman for a while, but McAdams has just recently gotten that stamp of approval. Game Night puts them together as a couple, and their chemistry is undeniable and sheer cinematic joy.
Game Night manages to deliver both comedy and story
Max (Bateman) and Annie (McAdams) met at a local trivia night, and their competitive nature drew them together. Their love of games finds them hosting a regular game night with their friends, but when Max’s brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) arrives, so does the sibling rivalry comes with this relationship. Brooks wants to up the intensity of game night, so he elicits the help of a murder mystery service. However, things take an odd turn, and many truths are revealed.
The film has several funny moments (some of which are shown in the trailer) that stand out. Jesse Plemons is Max and Annie’s neighbor, who was a part of their game night crew until his divorce. He’s a cop and has a creepy presence that makes every scene he’s in awkwardly funny. All the jokes that are set up get solid payoffs at some point – some of which aren’t even clearly jokes until the punchline lands. The rest of the crew includes Sharon Horgan, Billy Magnussen, Lamorne Morris, and Kylie Bunbury, who each bring something to the film.
One of the most surprising aspects of this comedy is the solid story it is packaged in. Once Brooks is kidnapped as part of the game – or is it part of the game…that’s the mystery – the crew split off into their respective partnerships. Each pairing picks a different path in which to solve the mystery as an attempt to win the game. This creates a great way for the story to unfold as each pair discovers something that helps tell the bigger story. This film could have easily phoned in the story and just kick back for the jokes, but it actually is a compelling story with funny moments.
Regardless of this, there is one story arc that seems unnecessary. Annie and Max are trying to have children, but most elements of that arc seem slightly shoehorned in. It is probably the weakest element of the film, but not one that is detrimental. It just seems like a thread that didn’t need to be there, and the few moments of conflict caused by it could have been just about any cliché couple argument.
Game Night definitely is a movie worth checking out. It’s humorous and keeps the audience engaged with a solid story. Some elements may be predictable, but there are enough twists to keep even the most astute viewers on their toes. Game Night earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.