Not normally one for comedies, especially in the theater. Game Night looked like it had something special. The talent in front of and behind the camera is incredible. Some actors get roles that are outside their normal wheelhouse. Other actors are back to do what they do best.
Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) often host a game night with their friends. Max’s brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler) is planning on being in town. Brooks wants to take part in game night, much to Max’s discontent. He’s spent his life overshadowing Max, creating a biting rivalry.
Brooks plans a game night unlike any the group has seen. Before Brooks’s plan can get underway game night gets hijacked by some real thugs. Brooks gets the crap beat out of him and abducted. The rest of the group is blissfully unaware as they enjoy a cheese platter. Their easy going murder mystery night has turned into an ever deepening whole of real crime.
Jason Bateman is the big name for the posters on this one. Since Arrested Development’s initial run Bateman has been synonymous with comedy. Bateman leads the ensemble cast on their adventure but never has to carry his team.
Rachel McAdams gets a solid amount of screen time to play off Bateman’s schtick. She’s charming and sells the heart of the film. Sharon Horgen, Billy Magnussen, Kylie Bunbury, and Lamorne Morris, round out the game night regulars. Each actor brings their own wit and charm to their character. The script does a good job developing them as people without venturing away from the main plot.
Chandler got to deliver a larger than life comedic performance. Chandler is best known for playing completely in control stoic and dramatic characters. It was nice to see Chandler let loose and chew the scenery some. His natural charisma comes out big. His performance, although huge, sells a lot of the crazier plot points.
The real stand out in the cast is Jesse Plemons. This isn’t a shock if you’ve watched Breaking Bad, Fargo, or the latest premiere episode of Black Mirror.
Plemons plays the uncomfortable and socially inept neighbor to Max and Annie. Gary never misses an opportunity to stalk his neighbors about game night.
Game Night mercifully never gets big enough to offer up massive explosions and stunts. It does offer some stylish elements and cool editing. Establishing shots look like pieces on a game board as the cameras swooped in and made them a reality.
As the plot progresses it gets a bit unwieldy. The movie has a few too many turns, a few too many logic gaps, and a few too many endings. The jokes never stop. Diminishing returns become par for the course as the audience collectively starts checking the time.
The bloated plot brings in some acting talent, and wastes it. While it’s cool seeing Michael C Hall again, he was wasted in a role that wasn’t needed. Even more so Danny Huston signed on for ninety seconds of screen time, none of which tap into his talents as an actor.
Created by Jonathan Goldstein, Mark Perez, and the hilarious John Francis Daley. Game Night was something of a passion project for the trio. Bateman himself was set to direct. The creators stood their ground against the studio against losing creative control. Passion is good in making movies but can be a double edged sword. The script could have used a bit of the ‘kill your darlings’ writing rule. All in all the results made for a fun escape with a talented cast.