Saturday, May 05, 2018

'Game Night' Offers Sharp Humor and Fun Surprises (Especially, If the Trailer Is Not Watched)

Game Night is a comedy film about a couple, Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams), who has been brought together by their competitiveness and fondness for games.  Once a week, they host a couples’ game night with their friends.  However, one night, Max’s more successful and obnoxious brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler), at his insistence, holds the weekly gathering at his place in which he arranges an interactive role-playing mystery game, complete with hired actors as FBI agents and kidnappers.  The prize for the winning couple?  A Corvette Stingray.  After Brooks is abducted by masked thugs, the friends earnestly set off to solve the case.  However, the night takes a wild, chaotic turn when they start to realize that the game may no longer be what they think it is.

When I saw the trailer for this movie, I thought that it was going to be a comedy version of The Game, the 1997 mystery thriller film starring Michael Douglas.  To confirm whether this initial perception of mine is correct or not is to somewhat spoil the movie, so I won’t.  But this can be said: it does have some fun twists and turns.
This is a generally funny movie.  It sometimes gets dark with its humor, but it never allows itself to become stupid or coarse.  Thus, most of the jokes land.

But aside from the adequately sharp comedy, the script itself is reasonably clever.  The narrative contains wit, heart, ample thrills, and smart references to itself.

The comedic performances from the cast are solid.  But the stand out for me – not necessarily because he’s the best actor, but because he comes off as a surprise – is Billy Magnussen.  When I first noticed this actor in Birth of the Dragon (I say “noticed” instead of “see” because, checking his filmography, I definitely had seen him before in other movies but just didn’t remember.  Or realize.  Or care), I thought he lacked any charisma.  But here, he surprisingly played the “shallow dimwit”-type character to perfection.
As a result of all these, Game Night works as an ideal comedy movie to simply lie back to and have a good time with.  That said, I definitely would have enjoyed this movie more if the trailer hadn’t given away a couple of its best bits and twists.

No comments: