Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie’s (Rachel McAdams) weekly game night takes a turn for the bizarre when they are joined by Max’s wealthy brother (Kyle Chandler). He ramps things up a level when he books an elaborate murder mystery party, embroiling the couple and their friends in a kidnapping plot involving fake FBI agents and criminals that may not end up being the game they expected.
If that premise sounds vaguely familiar then it should, Game Night at times comes across as something of a love letter to David Fincher’s ‘The Game’ but the comedic approach keeps it feeling fresh when it needs to. In fact, there is remarkable attention paid to the plot here that you wouldn’t always associate with an out and out comedy film. It twists and turns unexpectedly and will likely keep you guessing all the way through. We’re not talking Fincher levels of depth here, but it is a pleasant surprise for the story to be this engaging.
Chemistry is key to making comedy work and this cast click incredibly well together. Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as the ultra-competitive couple take centre stage here but all of the supporting cast bring something to table and not a single character feels wasted. Sharon Horgan and Billy Magnussen get some big laughs and it would be unfair not mention Lamorne Morris’ superb Denzel Washington impression but it’s not an exaggeration to say everyone is great here. It feels like the cast are enjoying themselves and it certainly gives the film a great sense of energy.
The stand out performance though is that of Jessie Plemons, who is superb as the socially awkward, creepy neighbour. He steals every scene he is in and delivers a character that will be talked about every time his name comes up in conversation for many years to come.
Good performances need good material though and thankfully Game Night has it by the bucket load. The gag rate is high and the film manages to be consistently laugh-out-loud funny even on repeat viewings. It might skew a little silly in places for some tastes but there is a good enough balance of gags and clever story beats that there should be something here for everyone.
Set pieces are another surprising strength. All too often an afterthought in a comedy, the calibre of the action scenes is strong here. The car chases look great and are genuinely exciting and the high stakes finale wouldn’t look out of place in a bigger budget action film. They don’t seem to have relied on CGI either which is certainly refreshing.
Game Night throws together a lot of ideas and delivers a thoroughly entertaining comedy that is certainly a cut above a lot of Hollywood comedic output, if you haven’t yet checked it out then Netflix is the perfect place to do so.
Author: Paul, Bath store