Who doesn’t love a good game night? Gather up the essentials, games, friends, and snacks and you’ve got yourself a great time.
Game Night the movie starts out like that, until you add in some of its essentials: a faked kidnapping (or is it real?), fight club for rich people, and a small white dog covered in blood.
Game Night stars Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as Max and Annie, a married couple who satisfy their intense competitive streak by hosting a weekly game night with friends.
When Max’s brother Brooks (the quintessential cooler older brother, better looking, rich, and charming) played by Kyle Chandler, takes over hosting duties for a night he ups the ante. He hires a local company to stage a kidnapping and have the rest of the group attempt to solve the crime - an idea that’s so much more fun than Pictionary.
Through the magic of movie timing just when the fake kidnapping is about to occur, real kidnappers (or are they?) kidnap Brooks and the gang spends the rest of the movie trying to figure out what’s real and what isn’t.
Such a plot in the hands of less talented actors might have been disaster. Luckily, this incredibly charismatic cast is able to turn the film into a solidly funny farce.
Rounding out game night is resident himbo Ryan played exquisitely by Billy Magnussen, his date Sarah played by the formidable Sharon Horgan (best known for creating and starring in the TV show Castastrophe), and cutie couple Kevin and Michelle (Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury) whose subplot of trying to figure out if she did or did not have an affair with Denzel Washington is a high point of the film.
But it’s next-door neighbour Gary, a sad-sack police officer who no longer makes the cut for game night, who steals the show. Played by Jesse Plemons with dead eyes and an inability to recognize social cues, Gary is the living incarnation of every “forced friendship” anyone has ever had to endure.
McAdams is better than expected, considering she must do most of the comedic heavy lifting to counter Bateman’s straight man. Bateman is good – playing the same middle aged, slightly aloof and sarcastic guy he has played in virtually every other movie - but at least he’s consistent.
It’s nice to see Kyle Chandler get to have some fun as bad brother Brooks since he is so often (understandably) cast as the best man on earth.
The movie is a fun 100 minutes with twists you’ll see coming and turns you won’t. Forgo another game of Catchphrase and make game night, movie night – you won’t be disappointed.
Vicky Sparks is a Bright’s Grove native and movie critic for Global TV’s The Morning Show, which airs nationally on Fridays. Her Journal Reviews cover movies playing at Galaxy Cinemas Sarnia