‘Game Night’ Raises the Stakes for Comedy

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Published March 13, 2018
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The Montclarion
From left to right: Actors Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams and Kyle Chandler star as a group of friends, whose ordinary game night turns into a real-life mystery. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

Many comedy films often find themselves flopping and failing to live up to the standards set by their own genre, but “Game Night” finds itself exceeding those standards with its clever dark humor, excellent cast chemistry and plot twists that keep the audience invested throughout the entirety of the movie.

“Game Night” is directed by the team of John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. The two have worked with each other on various films such as the “Horrible Bosses” movies and most recently, “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

The film stars Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as Max and Annie, a married couple who originally bonded over their parallel competitive natures and quickly fell in love. They host game night every week and invite their friends: Kevin, Michelle and Ryan. Kevin and Michelle, played by Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury respectively, began dating when they were fourteen and got married at nineteen. Ryan, portrayed by Billy Magnussen, is often the center of ridicule because of his history of bringing rather half-witted dates to these game nights, resulting in him never winning.

Max and Annie’s weekly tradition is suddenly interrupted by the arrival of Brooks. Played by Kyle Chandler, Brooks is Max’s wealthy and successful brother who offers to host a game night at the house he is renting while he is in town on business. As the host, Brooks decides to refrain from the usual, conventional board games and charades. He takes game night a step further and hires a company to give them a realistic murder-mystery party experience.

However, game night soon goes awry as Brooks is actually attacked and kidnapped by real goons who break into his house. The group of friends initially believe that this is all simply a part of the act. Once they realize that Brooks was actually abducted and is in real danger, they all embark on a journey to rescue him.

It is very easy for a comedy to end up being just plain unfunny. Jokes can fall flat, premises can become overcomplicated and it can end up being a bad movie viewing experience for everyone. “Game Night” proves itself to be the opposite of this. The jokes are often dark and are well timed. The cast has great chemistry, which leads to hilarious conversations and witty banter exchanged between the characters. The film also manages to make comedic moments out of its action sequences since the characters are just average people thrown into completely bizarre situations. The movie makes this apparent by presenting them as blatantly out of their comfort zones.

Many genre films – especially comedies, run the risk of falling victim to being predictable. “Game Night” does not let this happen. The movie stays fun and exciting by implementing various unexpected twists into its plot. Audiences will find themselves laughing obnoxiously loud all while sitting on the edges of their seats.

The aspect of the film that surprisingly stands out the most is Gary, played by Jesse Plemons. Gary is the creepy, peculiar police officer who lives next door to Max and Annie. He and wife Debbie used to participate in game night with the rest of the group, but they stopped getting invited once Debbie and Gary separated. Gary has since taken his exclusion from the group personally, often questioning Max and Annie to see if they are planning yet another game night without him. Gary’s strange personality and formal way of speaking makes for some of the funniest interactions and most quotable lines in the entire movie.

“Game Night” sets itself apart from other movies within the comedy genre. The premise may feel somewhat familiar, but it finds unique ways to keep the ideas fresh and original while landing each joke. The action and surprise twists will also keep audiences interested throughout its 100-minute run time. It may be early into 2018, but “Game Night” will no doubt end up as one of the funniest films of the year.

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