Directed by: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
Run Time: 1h 40min
Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime
By: Shari K. Green
3 1/2 Frames out of 5
Come to Game Night! Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams are hosting! Actually, Bateman is one of the producers of the movie, as well, which isn’t all that much of a surprise. This has Jason Bateman comedy written all over it. I was surprised he didn’t write it because it so fit his dry wit. When he gets a fresh winner of a script like this and works with directors like John Francis Daley (Vacation reboot) and Jonathan Goldstein (Horrible Bosses), who know where his strengths lie and use him to his full potential, gold is struck. It certainly is here. This is what I’d consider a must-see because it was so well written and put together. It’s never once slow or overdone. They even took care to make you feel a part of the game. It’s shot to make it seem as if the actors in the film, the ‘players in YOUR game,’ are moving around a board. At one point, you’ll even see these delightfully insane characters involved in a dangerous game of keep away. Warning, you and everyone in the theatre will laugh until you cry so be sure to check at the customer service desk first to see that the volume is turned up to a level where you can hear over one another.
Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams play Max and Annie who have wanted nothing more than to play games since they met over trivia in a bar years ago. Now middle-aged, they haven’t grown up much beyond the kids they were when playing board games with the family was the perfect Friday night. Now they’ve gotten several of their friends hooked and every Friday they stream into Max and Annie’s to see what the night has in store for them. Another satisfying element about the comedy is that each and every one of the actors cast, play off of each other exceptionally well, especially Jesse Plemons who plays Gary, their next-door neighbor who used to be welcome on game night. He was only a part of the fun because they were friends with his ex-wife, Debbie, who has since moved. His character is creepy and some of the earlier funny scenes are watching Max and Annie try to get out of his inviting himself over. Plemons plays him so admirably that you’ll never recognize him as being Todd from Breaking Bad.
What spoils this particular game night isn’t just the threat of Gary finding out it’s taking place, but that Max’s handsome and successful brother, Brooks (Chandler), is in town and wants to play. Not only does he come play and, as you might have guessed, unapologetically alerts Gary to the festivities, but he decides he’s hosting next. Unenthusiastically, they all decide to attend and the event Brooks has in store for them this evening is unlike what is usually held. No cards, paper, dice or pegs needed, just your wits. He hires a company to stage a murder mystery for them to solve. They’re paired up and the couple who solves the whodunit gets a Corvette Sting Ray. Now the movie turns into a thriller, mystery as Brooks is kidnapped. Twist! Kidnapped not by the company he hired to kidnap him but by people for whom he has done bad business. This is quite a unique set up and a fun adventure for the audience lies ahead.
The comedic timing everyone displays, while all of this is playing out, is spot on accurate. Rachel McAdams is irreplaceable as her Annie and Bateman’s Max banter back and forth, clueless as to what is really going on. Max even tells the kidnappers to drive safely as they’re pulling his struggling brother out of the house. Hysterical. Do yourself a favor and make this movie a part of your Friday Night amusement. You won’t be sorry. It meets all the requirements of a fantastic and memorable night out.
*Stay through the entire credits for two extra scenes!