Director: John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein
Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Game Night boasts an impressive comedy cast, beginning with the winning pairing of the reliably hilarious Jason Bateman, and the RomCom Queen Rachel McAdams. Add Wolf of Wallstreet star Kyle Chandler, New Girl’s Lamorne Morris, Catastrophe’s Sharon Horgan and Ingrid Goes West star Billy Magnussen and you are pretty much guaranteed a laugh a minute movie.
This is what Game Night offers, and believe me, this is what is delivers.
Competitive couple Max (Bateman) and Annie (McAdams) host a weekly game night for their friends. This is usually pretty tame- charades, monopoly etc. That is until Max’s brother Brooks (Chandler) turns up. Brooks is essentially the more successful, better looking, more charismatic version of Max- and the reason behind Max’s competitive streak (and apparently also his struggle to conceive).
Brooks proposes a different kind of game night, hosted by him at his rental house (which as you might gather, is pretty humongous). When the gang get there he explains his idea- it’s a murder mystery party. Halfway through his explanation, two gun wielding men break into the house and kidnap Brooks. After he has been taken, the game begins.
The gang splits into three groups- Annie and Max, Sarah (Sharon Horgan) and Ryan (Billy Magnussen) and Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury). Now here is where the movie gets a sit com kind of feel about it. Each couple has their own subplot. Ryan is the serial bimbo dater, who has asked Sarah to this particular game night because her brains might help him actually win for once. This is a date/isn’t a date scenario plays out charmingly amidst playful flirtation and humour.
During a drinking game pre kidnapping- Michelle lets slip that she has slept with a celebrity. Her husband (and childhood sweetheart) thought they had only ever been with each other- and is now desperately determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. This subplot is particularly funny, with flashbacks and physical comedy galore. Lamorne Morris is perfect for this role.
Annie and Max are more closely embroiled with the fate of Max’s brother Brooks, and hilariously hold up bars, face down real criminals and wield loaded guns under the mistaken identity that this is all a game.
There is also mention of a fourth couple that used to play a big part in the weekly game night. Debbie- who never actually features in the movie, and her creepy ex husband Gary (Jesse Plemons- or as he is known colloquially; Meth Damon). Gary is on screen regularly, mainly staring at Annie and Max from his front door and creepily stroking his (cute!!) dog Bastian.
Cue a HILARIOUS scene mid film featuring Max and said dog. I can’t give away any more spoilers but this scene had me nearly crying with laughter in the cinema, and I am not usually one for audible reactions.
As I am sure you can imagine, a film with a plot like this begs twists upon twists. This is where the danger lies- too many twists and the audience gets lost. Too little and the story is just not believable. Game Night gets it spot on. Every time you think you have it figured out, another bombshell is dropped. The plot is exciting, fast paced and interesting- and managing to keep this up whilst still maintaining the humour is difficult, but they pull it off. My kudos to the writer Mark Perez.
The acting is top notch, as always with McAdams and Bateman. With a cast like this you really don’t expect anything less. I was most pleasantly surprised by Kyle Chandler, who I had only ever seen playing the scorned FBI agent in Wolf Of Wall Street. I didn’t find him charismatic or appealing in that film- but he does a good job of playing that role in Game Night. He is charming, roguishly cool and you can easily buy him as the reason Max has developed his obsessive competitiveness.
Overall, the film is a fantastic effort from everyone involved. It’s not dramatic or stylish enough to be winning any Oscars any time soon- but sometimes all you want from a film is a good hour plus of entertainment.
Game Night has a great plot, brilliant actors and is downright hilarious. It comes with my highest recommendation.