Rachel McAdams Jason Bateman Jesse Plemons Kyle Chandler
This is a silly movie, and if you’re in a silly mood and easily go along with most comedies you see, you might like it. It comes across first as a TV sit-com, then moves into what is supposed to be a thriller, then finally devolves into the absurd. I think the writer Mark Perez intended for the script to move smoothly between couples’ conversations, comedy, and life-threatening chills. But the conversations come across as hackneyed, the comedy not funny (unless you like the kind that is catty, mean, or demeaning), and the thriller parts become anti-climactic “gotcha” moments. And the insertion of serious talks about such things as having a baby, and infidelity in the midst of a crisis is disjointedly unreal. Perhaps some will see Game Night as a spoof on mystery/horror films, but I imagine most of these people will find most of the elements in the plot contrived.
The main couple, Annie (McAdams) and Max (Bateman), are nuts about gaming and have an entertaining competitiveness with each other and when playing with their friends. The film weaves in stories about all their relationships that are funny but have a sharp edge of discomfort and go on for too long. Much of the interaction among all the couples is trying to one-up each other (which some laugh at, but I find not very funny). One of the “serious” but intended comical elements is Max’s brother Brooks (Chandler) coming to visit. We’re told about the psychological issues between the two, which are, indeed, played out before us. We meet an egotistical “Hollywood” type who comes in flaunting his wealth and lording it over his brother. He takes over every scene he’s in and all are enthralled and impressed with him, much to the chagrin of Max, who puts up only mild resistance.
One of Brooks’ ostentations is to invite Annie’s and Max’s friends to his house/mansion the next week, which is intended to be the game of all games. But there will be surprise after surprise (unless the viewer guesses each beforehand) intended to give the viewer a “what’s real? and “what’s the game”? kind of reaction.
McAdams and Bateman do well with the material they have to work with, and come across as people one would like to know more about beyond the clichés. But the real star is Jesse Plemons playing the nerd-like neighbor Gary, who is a lonely policeman longing to be included in the games his neighbors play. Too bad the filmmakers didn’t end the film with his coup de grace. That would have given their film a meaning we could hold onto.
Game Night has some things going for it, but mostly it is a waste of time.
Gaming can be fun…until it gets mixed up in major crime.