To listen to some film journalists talk the state of the comedy genre is in tatters. Apparently unfunny comedy after unfunny comedy floods our cinemas screens. The notion is ridiculous though. It seems that films like Horrible Bosses and We’re The Millers have been completely forgotten about… hell even the local comedy Swinging Safari was a lot funnier that most journos gave it credit for. Now comes Game Night a film that certainly shows that comedy is back – not only does the film’s twists and turns keep the audience guessing but it’s sassy comedy and modern edge make a film worthy of more than one viewing.
The plot of Game Night is unique in itself. Max (Jason Bateman – Arrested Development, Juno) and Annie (Rachel McAdams – The Notebook, Mean Girls) are a regular couple with a big difference – they are driven by a competitive spirit that makes their frequent games’ nights a must attend for their friends.
However their games nights are changed forever when the couple realise that their inability to conceive a child is caused by Max’s competitive streak with his rich and popular brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler – Argo, Manchester By The Sea). With Brooks coming to town and deciding to host the latest games night… a night that he says nobody will forget… Max and Annie are already on edge. To make things worse they are trying to hide the night from their creepy, ex-friend and Police Officer Gary (Jesse Plemons – Battleship, Black Mass) so he doesn’t turn up, but that all pails into insignificance when Brooks’ real life makes the night potentially deadly.
Universally panned for their work on Vacation directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein bounce back here largely thanks to a witty script written by Mark Perez (Accepted, Herbie: Fully Loaded). While the premise of the film seems basic Perez’s screenplay makes this film stand-out. Game Night has everything that a good comedy should have – witty one-liners plus memorable characters like the dry and dull Gary and the extremely dumb himbo Ryan (Billy Magnussen – Into The Woods, The Big Short).
But Game Night also has more than that. The suspense of the plot is only enhances with a serious of twists and turns that soon has the audience realising that they can’t predict what is going to happen in the next minute let alone for the rest of the film. The fact that Perez is smart enough to have Max almost narrate what some would call film flaws with lines like ‘great two guys show up that haven’t been revealed in the plot earlier’ makes the decision to include such risky choices in the film pay off with laughter. The screenplay also gives a nod to other films, again with a smirk to the audience as Rachel McAdams declares ‘like Liam Neeson in Taken 3.’
In fact it is the chances that Game Night makes that ends up letting the film work. The decision to tone the adult humour down when compared to a film like Horrible Bosses means that this becomes the perfect date movie for both men and women while the interesting choice of cast all works. Batman and McAdams gel well as an on-screen couple while Jesse Plemons steals just about every scene he is in with some brilliant deadpan character acting. The other big surprise here is Kyle Chandler. Known more for his gritty dramatic roles in productions like Friday Night Lights Chandler here shows the world his comedic skills as he makes sure Brooks is one of those characters that the audience will love one moment and hate the next.
Game Night is one comedy that is well worth a look. Its great screenplay allows for a little more storyline and suspense then what we expect from most comedy films while Jason Bateman once again shows why he is the current king of comedy. As you sit down to watch Game Night be prepared for a wild ride with more than enough laughs to keep the comedy fans happy as well.