Review by J.T. Johnson
DIRECTORS: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Barry Peterson
WRITER: Mark Perez
MUSIC: Cliff Martinez
When I went into see “Game Night”, all I wanted to do was laugh. The only goal for this movie was to be funny. What I got was a hilarious film that also happened to contain great performances, surprisingly beautiful cinematography and a few action sequences that could actually hold their own in a big budget blockbuster. I’m no longer surprised at all that Warner Bros. has tapped directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein to helm “Flashpoint”.
In this movie, we follow Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams), two people that hooked up due to their competitive natures at various game nights. Since they have been married, they have hosted a game night with other couples that include Ryan (Billy Magnussen) and Sarah (Sharon Horgan) as well as Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury). They also desperately try to avoid detection with their neighbor and recent divorcee, Gary (Jesse Plemons).
One night, Max’s more successful brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) hosts game night and Brooks tells the gang that they will be taking part in a staged kidnapping murder mystery. Sure enough, some men break in and kidnap Brooks while the gang believes that this is part of the act. We then learn that this is no game as Brooks is genuinely in danger.
The movie shares a lot in common with other comedies such as “The Hangover”. Even so, writer Mark Perez and both Daley & Goldstein create an almost perfectly built comedy. The only real problem I had with the movie was that the stories for the other two couples beyond Max and Annie are okay, but they aren’t the strongest part of the film.
Instead, the true hero of this film is Plemons as Officer Gary. Due to a wonderful deadpan delivery, Gary comes off as hilariously awkward while trying to deal with a couple that obviously doesn’t want him to be a part of game night. There is almost always a standout character in a great comedy that takes everything to another level and that is definitely Gary, a character worth the price of admission all by himself.
I mentioned earlier that the cinematography and the action surprised me with how well they were done. Usually, you don’t get great straightforward action scenes in a comedy such as that, but the filmmakers paid extra attention to these scenes, such as a one-take chase that I don’t want to spoil here. The action, like Gary, is another element that elevates an already funny comedy.
Bateman and McAdams have a wonderful chemistry together and you really want to root for these two. Bateman once again proves to be a wonderful straight man to the comedy while also providing some laughs of his own. Before this movie, I had never really seen McAdams as the main character in a straight-up comedy and she proves that she can definitely make the audience laugh throughout.
For the life of me, I don’t know why Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema decided to release this behind “Black Panther”. Granted, it has a small enough of a budget that it could probably still be a modest hit. I know that the box office is not everything, but I would have loved to have seen this movie make the money it truly deserves and if you get the chance, this is one game night that you definitely don’t want to miss.