Game Night, directed by John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein, has an infectiously entertaining premise that only gets more enjoyable as it goes on. Now, was this a film that had me won over all of the time? No. There were certainly points to this film that didn’t work for me. But I entered this film with a particular frame of mind and it ended up serving both me and the film well. But will it be the same situation for you? Is Game Night worth seeing? Well, let’s find out by jumping into my review and seeing what it has to offer.
Max – played by Jason Bateman – and Annie – played by Rachel McAdams – regularly host a game night with their friends at their house. But when Max’s brother, Brooks – played by Kyle Chandler – comes into town and offers to host his own unique style of game night; things get out of hand. What begins as a staged attempt at crazy fun, soon evolves into a night full of dangerous, life threatening antics, that see everyone risking it all for not only the win but also their lives.
It’s in Game Night’s premise and how it handles it as it escalates, that your enjoyment of the film lives or dies. I saw a quarter of one trailer for this film, thought it looked fun and then avoided everything else about it until I was sitting in the cinema watching it – I was confident the trailers would give away much of the jokes and surprises. I’m glad I did this, because knowing near enough nothing about what the premise of the film was and how it was going to play out, made for a much more engaging experience (for me personally, of course).
When I began to see where the film was going, I was interested to see if it would falter, or if it would pick up the fun idea it had at its disposal and run well with it. The latter ended up being the case, as the more the film went on and the more it played with its plot, the more enjoyable it got. Many of the escalating situations the characters found themselves in and their responses to them were increasingly fun to watch.
Now, there is one thing you’ll have to do the more the film goes on and that is to largely suspend your disbelief and let the craziness of the events unfolding just play out. As the film progresses, logic and common sense do take a back seat in favour of moments of heightened silliness. A lot of the problems that characters find themselves in could probably be solved by being sensible and calm. But where’s the fun in that? I found that watching Game Night was best done with the logic part of your brain being on sleep mode for 100 minutes or so.
It was only in the last 15 minutes of the film that I felt it went too far. Revelations began to rear their head and the sequence of events that unfolded became too farcical for me to fully connect with the characters and their actions. It wasn’t a situation where I felt it harmed my feelings on the film – as it was still quite funny – it was just difficult to take in what I was watching and not question how utterly ridiculous it was. But I suppose after everything I had watched up until that point and accepted, I perhaps should have expected things to truly fly off the rails. Again, it wasn’t a big issue for me, but I can see it being a step too far for some (which is fair).
So while I was enjoying the plot and the way in which it was shaping up, it was the characters that were keeping me emotionally invested. The film brings together a likable group of people who I was always happy to be watching. There wasn’t one character who was ever irritating or brought the experience down. Everyone had their part to play (some parts being better and more fleshed out than others) and they played it well. It was Jesse Plemons – who played Officer Gary – who was the show stealer for me. Every scene of his was flawlessly funny. His unnerving delivery and his deadpan humour always got some of the heartiest giggles out of me; and for me personally it was really interesting to see the range Plemons has as an actor – doing both serious dramas and also comedies, plus anything in between.
Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman hold the film together with their relationship and by the end of the film were people I had fully invested in and was more than happy to be along for the ride on their crazy adventure. They both also had what I think is the funniest scene in the film where, Annie attempts to remove a bullet from Max’s arm. That scene got the most consistent and heartiest laughs from me (and the audience around me).
And overall, I would say that from a comedy standpoint, Game Night lands more funny jokes than it doesn’t. There are of course duds, and most of them were when characters would just reference a celebrity and think that constituted a joke. Just saying something that people recognise isn’t a joke and I don’t understand why American made comedy films in particular always go for those types of jokes. They aren’t funny, and they only date your film.
But Game Night was a film that had me laughing throughout (something that’s refreshing when you consider the state of the comedy genre right now). And the film also doesn’t rely on huge action set-pieces to hold the audience’s ever wavering attention. It’s an odd (and for me unlikeable) trend that has taken over in the last few years where instead of writing competent, funny scripts, studios instead put out bland comedies that masquerade as action films. Game Night does have a few moments of action, but they’re small and well shot. The group being chased around a mansion is a particular scene that comes to mind where scale wise it was small and contained; and the way in which they went about filming it made it engaging to watch.
It’s clear that the makers of Game Night knew they had a good premise on their hands, a likeable group of characters, and actors who fit the roles really well, and so they didn’t need to try to punch things up by having over the top, unnecessary action to make up for a weak, unfunny script. I was thoroughly entertained throughout my time watching, Game Night and that’s not something I feel I can say about a lot of the “comedy” films that come out these days.
I happily recommend, Game Night. The film doesn’t do anything ground-breaking or highly original, but it is a solid comedy film that never stopped entertaining me and making me laugh. Game Night is the perfect film for a big group of friends to get together and go enjoy. Everyone will have a good time and will leave the cinema energised from the fun they had just had. What could be better than having a fun time with your friends at the cinema, before heading out into the town?
I’d love to know what you thought of Game Night and my review of it, so please leave any opinions, feedback, etc. in the comments section down below. If you liked what you read, may I suggest following both my blog and my Twitter – @GavinsRamblings – that way you’ll always know when I post something new. But I’ll bring things to a close now by thanking you wholeheartedly for taking the time to read my writing, and I hope you have a fantastic day!