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Film/TV Game Night

Published on March 2nd, 2018 | by voxx

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Game Night

Out: 2 March
Cert: 15
Length: 100 minutes
Rating: 4/5

Directors: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daly

Cast: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Sharon Horgan, Billy Magnussen

Plot: Max (Bateman) and Annie’s (McAdams) weekly game night when Max’s brother Brooks (Chandler) arranges a murder mystery party complete with fake thugs and federal agents, So when he gets kidnapped it’s all part of a game.

It might be possible that the poster for ‘ Game Night’ will put you off. On it we get the following eight words: “from the guys who brought you ‘Horrible Bosses’”. Those words might be a slight indication that the film is going to be just as bad, just as dry and perhaps just as messy. But, as the film starts it’s almost the complete opposite to those expectations – directing duo John Francis Daly and Jonathan Goldstein (they only wrote ‘Horrible Bosses’) prove to be a winning team, in both the comedy and the crime caper genres.

Dedicated married couple Annie (McAdams) and Max (Bateman) constantly join their group of friends for a weekly game night, which also acts as a welcome distraction from their ongoing debate on whether they should start a family (she’s always pro, and well he’s against in a never-ending spiral). However, their sacred gaming tradition falls apart like a Jenga tower on a wobbly table when Max’s irritatingly successful estranged brother, Brooks (Chandler), stages an elaborate murder mystery – complete with fake thugs, blood packets and even going as far to involve federal figures – only for it to be interrupted, forcing the pair and their group of close pals to save him from the clutches of actual criminals. What follows during the film is a delightfully absurd, terrifically dark and wickedly funny mission to find Max’s brother.

This may sound like it’s going to run askew during its particularly tight-as-a-whip 100 minute running time, and granted it isn’t a perfectly flat-out run of laughs – during a saccharine moment during a game of Pictionary that openly jars given it’s surrounding madness – yet the film has plenty on offer as Daly and Goldstein, helped by Mark Perez (co-writer of ‘Herbie: Fully Loaded’), throw plenty of twists at the audience, mostly at the characters’ expense. It’s funny in that sense – in particular it’s the physical objects that generate the most laughs. Though it’s not as if the film is exactly original in its casting choices. For this you might blame the choosing of Jason Bateman – a safe bet – but it’s one where the film suffers in the long run.

Yet, amid the unfolding madness the film happily gives its supporting players something to do. There’s the handsomely dim-witted Billy Magnussen, who finds himself unexpectedly falling for Sarah (Horgan), but the real show-stealer is Jesse Plemmons’ creepy westie-loving police-man. The film isn’t just after mindless laughs that will have you wetting yourself (admittedly you still do) and it doesn’t resort to slapstick territory. Instead, the film has a razor-sharp screenplay and a fleshed character story, giving us lead characters that we actually care about. How often can we say that about a comedy?

VERDICT: With a terrifically talented cast turned loose on a loaded premise with a whip-smart script, ‘Game Night’ is definitely more exciting than the real thing.

- By Corey Denford


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