Game Night is a comedy murder mystery starring Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as Max and Annie, a hyper-competitive couple who get thrown into a plot involving mobsters and a kidnapping during one of their weekly game nights. Game Night is directed John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein, the co-writers behind Spider-Man Homecoming and the upcoming Flash Movie.
The film is an homage to the recent trend of “kidnapping” thriller movies over the past few years, such as Prisoners and Kidnap, but it takes most of its influence from the hit film franchise Taken. The film even references Taken multiple times throughout. However, Game Night is nothing at all like these thrillers. Most of those films feature heart-pounding action with incredible and outrageous stunts and while Game Night has its fair share of action, this film relies on its hilarious cast and their gut-busting jokes.
Often times both comedies and kidnapping movies tend to have extremely thin plots with little or no character development. Game Night does not suffer from this problem at all. Daley and Goldstein have created a multi-layered story using marital issues, sibling rivalries, an incredibly elaborate game night, and a brother getting mixed up in the wrong crowd. The film isn’t straightforward at all, consisting of numerous twists throughout that change the characters’ outlook on the game and even of each other.
Comedy’s juxtaposed with thriller tropes elevates the film to a new level. Max and Annie’s domestic lives are thrown into a twist when Max’s brother Brooks comes into town and gets them caught up in an international conspiracy. They are forced to plan out heists, outrun murderers and most importantly, figure out if any of the conspiracy is actually real. Their competitive nature and lack of street knowledge makes for some of the funniest scenes in cinemas in the last few months, if not the last few years.
It’s clear that Daley and Goldstein knew what kind of film they were planning to make and they set out to make it best they could. The film gives unique shots between scenes that make Max and Annie’s world seem like a giant board game, further blurring the lines between what is a game and what isn’t.
Some of the best scenes of the film are bits that some may argue are too drawn out and are no longer funny. However, Daley and Goldstein are unafraid to take the risk of long bits and in my honest opinion, it pays off greatly. The film uses its 7 main characters – Max, Annie, Brooks (Kyle Chandler), Ryan (Billy Magnussen), Michelle (Kylie Bunbury), Kevin (Lamorne Morris), and Sarah (Sharon Horgan) – extremely well, giving them each hilarious backstories and personalities that add to the film’s humor. In addition, Jesse Plemmons’ performance as a creepy cop neighbor only breathes more life into the film.
Game Night is a great film and is a must see for anyone looking to watch something lighthearted and funny in theaters. If you enjoy a good comedy or even a thriller with a rich plot, Game Night is the film for you.