Cinema audiences are so geared for disappointment, with the pre-release hype machine and post-release social media autopsy that comes with most studio films, that when a film is a pleasant surprise it is all the more enjoyable. On the surface, Game Night seems to be another in the long line of crime thriller comedies, which are rarely worth your time. But it is in fact a sweet, funny, silly film, terrifically paced, tightly plotted, and a resounding hoot of a film.
The plot revolves around a weekly game night run by the ultra-competitive (and pleasingly likeable) Max and Annie. Regulars are Ryan and his ever changing roster of dates, and childhood sweethearts Kevin and Michelle. The arrival of Max's more successful brother takes game night up a notch, and soon the group finds themselves knee deep in kidnappings and criminal elements. Think of it as David Fincher's The Game, but played for laughs.
The cast of Game Night sparkle from the leads down, aided by a refreshingly sharp script and well-paced direction. The often underused Rachel McAdams is a hoot, with her natural charisma and comic timing used fabulously here. She is paired well with Jason Bateman, and their chemistry is one of the most enjoyable elements of the film. They even make a bullet-removal scene silly and funny as opposed to just a bit grim. In fact, all of the characters feel fleshed-out in ways you wouldn't expect for a comedy of this nature. The narrative arcs work a treat with the film's willingness to take some unpredictable turns. There are a smattering of great cameos dotted throughout the film that I won't ruin here. But proceedings are very nearly stolen by a wonderfully creepy Jesse Plemons (whose best work has been on TV - Breaking Bad, series two of
Game Night is almost guaranteed to make you smile. It's silly without being film-breakingly stupid, and uses thriller tropes effectively without letting the nastier elements get in the way of the fun. All this is aided by a cast on very fine form, with outstanding turns from McAdams and Plemons. Roll the dice on Game Night and you'll be sure to win a big prize.