GAME NIGHT Review: 8 out of 10 (Roll The Dice and Win with Laughs)
GAME NIGHT is a dark and farcical comedy that is far better than it ought to be. With so many of these films that have been made in recent years (DATE NIGHT, ROUGH NIGHT, BAD MOMS, etc) it seems a template that has been worn out. But add some strong performances and memorable characters to a script that is subversive, dark and damn funny and the result is a pretty great comedy. GAME NIGHT is directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein who have had quite a bit of success writing and directing together in this genre. The film stars Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams and features a supporting cast that includes Kyle Chandler, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury, and Jesse Plemons.
Bateman and McAdams star as Max and Annie, a couple who is attracted to each other due to their own gamesmanship and competitive drive. That carries over into a regular weekly game night with friends. One week Max's charismatic brother, Brooks (Chandler), takes over one of their weekly gatherings and arranges a murder mystery party, complete with fake thugs and faux federal agents. When Brooks himself is kidnapped, it's all part of the game - right? But as the six uber-competitive gamers set out to solve the case and win, they begin to discover that neither this game - nor Brooks - are what they seem to be.
GAME NIGHT matches its slapstick humor and physical comedy with more than a few bawdy jokes and some clever dialogue. Bateman is firmly in his wheelhouse as a whip-smart quick wit and McAdams is his equal here as the two adventure together with their friends to solve the night's mysteries. But it is Jesse Plemons who absolutely steals the show as the creepy cop neighbor Gary, a former game night participant who was cast out due to divorce and a creepy factor. Gary might be the most memorable socially inept yet loveable comedy character I have seen since Zach Galifianakis as Alan in THE HANGOVER. The film itself has a few silly subplots and at least one that doesn't really make much sense at all. But those are pretty easy to forgive when you are laughing your ass off. This film is a sort of bawdy version of the 80s hit comedy film CLUE but played on the streets of the city rather than limited to a mansion. Harmlessly humorous GAME NIGHT far surpasses its competition in the new sort of subgenre of dark comedy grownup high jinks films. It has wit, a few thrills, and enough twists and laughs to entertain well though the credits (which one should stay all the way through the end for...) Highly Recommended.