Friday 18 January 2019

Game Night movie review: 'Full of twists and comes with some genuinely comical one-liners'

3 stars

Night to remember: Sharon Horgan steals the show in Game Night
Night to remember: Sharon Horgan steals the show in Game Night

Chris Wasser

THE most surprising thing about Game Night is that it’s actually pretty good (we’re straight to the point, this week).

Let’s face it, Jason Bateman is involved. It’s directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (they co-wrote Horrible Bosses). We were worried. But whaddaya know? Game Night is a bit of a laugh.  Max (Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) make the perfect couple. They both love games, they’re both super competitive and… well, that’s pretty much it. They get married. They set up weekly game nights with their mates. Alas, they’re having trouble conceiving a child (which, by the way, has nothing to do with the ‘game night’ section of the plot, but sure listen, it’s part of the story).

Moving on, Max’s older, cooler, richer brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler), is in town and, typical for him, the cheeky swine hijacks Max’s life and hosts a game night of his own. That’s bad form.

Plus, he’s decided to take things up a notch (no Monopoly or charades for this fella). He’s hired a murder mystery company for the night. He informs Max, Annie and their mates that they won’t know what’s real and what’s part of the game. We’re in for an intense evening.

The only downside is that Brooks’ murder mystery game just so happens to coincide with his own real-life kidnapping. See, Brooks is in deep with the wrong people. They bash in his door, beat him up and take him away. Max and the others think it’s all part of the fun. You can see where this is going.

Or, maybe not. That’s the thing: Game Night is quite good at surprises. It’s full of twists, this one. It comes with some genuinely comical one-liners, too. Bateman (decent) and McAdams (better) work very well together.

They’ve got fabulous teammates (Sharon Horgan and Billy Magnussen are terrific, while Lamorne Morris delivers a smashing Denzel Washington impression). I think what I’m trying to say is that Game Night — a slick, inventive and surprisingly efficient action/comedy — is as solid a studio chuckle-fest as you could hope to see. Flawed, for sure, but we’ll take it.

We must mention the brilliant Jesse Plemons. Mr Plemons plays Max’s next-door neighbour, Gary, a creepy, divorced police officer who carries his dog everywhere. Mark my words: someone is going to want to make an entire film based on Gary, the lonely cop. Hell, I’d almost award an extra star just for Gary. Almost.

Also out this week: Red Sparrow movie review: 'dramatic scenes are undone by dialogue that sounds like something out of an Austin Powers movie'

Movie reviews: Game Night (4 stars), A Fantastic Woman (5 stars), The Ice King (4 stars) 


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