You had me at wheezing from laughter while suspecting everything and everyone simultaneously.
From start to finish, the descriptor that was stuck in my head while watching Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams’ newest movie Game Night was: pleasantly surprised. I was fully expecting another run-of-the-mill, half-assed comedy film à la Horrible Bosses 2 (my first association with Jason Bateman, sadly).
But au contraire!
Max (Bateman) and Annie (McAdams) are a lovably competitive couple who like to host frequent game nights filled with sharades, movie trivia and loads of snacks. This sweet routine they have with a close circle of friends, plus the (sometimes literally) odd date, is turned upside down when Max’s brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) comes into town and decides to take over game night. Ever the center of attention, Brooks has upped the stakes this time and turned the evening into a staged kidnapping mystery – or so they all thought. Before the fake kidnappers showed up, Brooks was taken by a couple of real ones and, thus, a ridiculous, coincidence-riddled chase begins.
While the premise was pretty ordinary, the dialogue and hilarious delivery make this movie quite special. Max and Annie are such likeable characters with charming quirks and often adorably awkward naivité – the entire ‘gunshot wound’-plotline had me reeling! The actors in the two protagonists’ roles worked extremely well together. You would absolutley believe they’re a real couple and they were able to play off of one another so well that it only amplified their great comedic timing. Billy Magnussen, who played their shallow and a tad child-like friend Ryan, did have the most hilarious lines throughout, though. None of which felt forced into the script for a mere cheap laugh, mind you.
But how could you watch this movie and not cry tears of laughter at Jesse Plemons’ portrayal of their supremely unsettling neighbor Gary? His intense, almost menacing stare as he holds his fluffy dog and monologues about friendship and trust while the camera zooms in ever so slowly: absolute gold.
Visually, Game Night has a few unique moments as well. I especially enjoyed the title sequence that showed pieces of popular games, like the cake shapes from Trivial Pursuit or Parcheesi tokens, floating down in a blue-purple hue, accompanied by ominous music. And even more interesting are the title screens or moments when there’s a change in location. Those are made to look like little toy villages such as the ones you would find in the surroundings of model trains. It keeps the running theme of ‘games’ throughout and was just generally a nice, original touch.
Without revealing any spoilers, I just have to mention that I was positively surprised by the cameo of the film’s ultimate villain. An actor I enjoy very much, but that’s all I’m gonna say.
If you take nothing from this movie other than a hearty laugh and a healthy suspicion of your neighbors, at least you will remember to buy very sturdy glass tables!