As is per tradition of this movie lover, I tend to avoid as many previews and ahead of the release reviews of movies as I want to sit down in the theater with my gigantic bag of buttered popcorn and discover every new movie with fresh eyes.
So I walk into GAME NIGHT with just the names Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams on the poster, and a fleeting image I saw on a lobby display once, along with the fact it’s a major studio comedy from Warner in the month of February. So I had no idea what was about to happen.
What emerged was what may very well be the funniest movie of 2018. I have not laughed this loudly in a cinema since THE WHOLE NINE YARDS (yeah, the one with Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry) almost two decades ago, and that’s saying something. It comes from the minds of John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who directed the funny if unmemorable VACATION reboot a few years ago. Daley was also known for playing Sam Weir on FREAKS & GEEKS. This is a movie his character would be quoting at school for weeks after he watched it.
Married couple Max & Annie (Jason Bateman & Rachel McAdams, perfect together) have regular game nights with some of their closest friends at their house. When Max’s estranged brother (Kyle Chandler) suggests he have a game night over at his house, what results is one of those planned hired murder mystery games that reminded me of a different version of David Fincher’s THE GAME. And like that movie, this one goes in a lot of directions.
What I loved about this comedy is that it’s an old-fashioned type of R-rated fun where the twists and turns in the comedy come at you in all directions and the humour mostly comes in the reactions. Acting is reacting, and both Bateman and McAdams convinced me in five minutes that they were a long time married couple. Everything about their mannerisms and character was pretty much near flawless and this is some of their very best work.
What also helps is the outstanding supporting cast of many backgrounds and all have their own unique voice to comedy. My favorite was Jesse Plemons as the cop next door; he absolutely wowed me in his first scene where he is talking at a complete monotone in response to Max and Annie, and you can clearly tell he is hiding something. All the while holding a Westie Terrier in his arms. As well the husband/wife team Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury) have an incredible subplot involving one of my favorite actors that has to be seen to be believed.
GAME NIGHT is that perfect example of a comedy that is well thought out in every section, goes for broke and comes out victorious as a quite original execution by its creators. It works because it takes chances and gets away almost all of them. Bonus points, as always, goes to Cliff Martinez for yet another music score that I want on soundtrack immediately.
GAME NIGHT is now in theatres.