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“Game Night” is surprisingly fun

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Comedies have, over time, resorted to going beyond the nine yards by always trying to over- deliver on all kinds of zaniness and over-the-top situations, with it either working, like in “The Hangover,” or not working at all like in “Daddy’s Home.”  With “Game Night,” the escalating madcap nature of this screwball comedy actually works in its favor and is more in tune with the former example, minus any excess raunchiness.

“Game Night” follows a group of friends who have had game nights for several years, hosted by amiable couple Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams), who fell in love over their highly competitive nature. Their friends are Ryan (Billy Magnussen) and whatever date he brings to game night, this time it’s the sharper and older Sarah (Sharon Horgan), and fellow couple Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury).  

However, their weekly game night is shaken up by the arrival of Max’s more successful brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler), who invites everyone to his luxurious home for a more thrilling game night, with a grand prize of a vintage car. What initially starts off as an elaborate murder mystery game night turns into an actual crime story as Brooks is kidnapped for real, leading to a whacky and odd night as the others search for him, still thinking it is all a game. The film benefits from a strong cast who make it work, even when the film is running on fumes near the end. Bateman and McAdams shined, and their characters’ personalities played well into their thoughts of the crime not being real. The others all have their moments to shine throughout, especially Magnussen, who steals the show with his goofy antics.  

The camerawork is also astounding at times, with inventive camera shots, placement and angles. Highlights include a well-done one-take chase sequence and visually-pleasing cinematography throughout.

For the most part, the writing is solid, with the cast more than capable of bringing most of the jokes up a notch, although the film does end up overstaying its welcome near the end as the true crime game night begins to unravel.

There are various revelations during the course of the night that are very intriguing, if not a tad far-fetched, and some characters and actors were heavily underutilized. Michael C. Hall, for example, definitely deserved a much larger role.  

Overall, the film manages to overcome some stumbles in the length and pacing, and despite some ridiculous decisions made mostly by McAdams that no actual person would make, the rest of the film does manage to deliver a thrilling and truly funny film with good production quality.

 

Film: Game Night

Directed by: John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein

Release Date: Feb. 23

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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“Game Night” is surprisingly fun