Game Night review: An absurd comedy with too many plot twists that ends up working as a thriller
Things are about to get absurdly out of hand and quickly. This dark comedy from John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein has many a laugh in between the absurd plot. The movie Game Night, starring Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams), Brooks (Kyle Chandler), Ryan (Billy Magnussen), Michelle (Kylie Bunbury), Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and others, has murder mystery written all over it.
It's certainly a talented cast. The problem is, that viewers might hesitate to give Game Night a chance because of the director's previous ventures. The two have collaborated on a number of screenplays that ultimately fell flat. From The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 & Horrible Bosses, the list of movies doesn't necessarily scream winner.
Max and Annie are competitive as any two individuals can be. Their modus operandi is hosting weekly couple game nights with some of their very good friends. These nights are the most fun the group has over the week. But when the thrills get out of hand, does it still end up being fun? That's the question posed in the first half hour of the 100-minute movie.
The movie ends up doing a disservice to the wonderful supporting cast on hand. As the supporting cast infiltrate the movie with their timely humour and offbeat acting, it is the tired trope of cinema that ultimately derails the thoroughly enjoyable movie. That the movie keeps turning its lens back on the 'perfect' lead couple lets down the viewer expecting just a little bit of change from the run-of-the-mill cinema.
In the end, the film becomes a little too predictable for its own good. That isn't to take away from the zingy comedy. There are movie and celebrity references that will let you pause from the relentless action and violence taking place in front of you.
The trouble in the script comes from the over complication and the not-so-deft handling. When Brooke shows up and takes over a 'game night', the plotlines unravel and you end up feeling a little tired, despite the laughter, by the time you reach the end. The end of many plot twists and unfinished scenes. It's taxing on the viewer who has to figure out between what's part of the game and what isn't. The lines are blurred a little too much and despite the slowing down - car chases & bar fights - it doesn't get any easier.
There are times when the directors let a few jokes linger on a little longer than they should. For example, when one of the 'dumb' characters Ryan, tries to bribe someone, he keeps slowly sliding small bills - one smaller bill after another - across a table.
This movie goes from strength to major weakness, back to strength, and finally ends up with a weak - trying to be cute - ending. At every plot twist, it takes a few minutes for the viewer to reorient themselves, and that is the problem. Cutting down on one or two plot lines and focusing on the core story, and taking some liberties with the comedy might have done this movie a whole lot of good.
Focus on the 'thriller' parts of the movie and have a laugh along the way. That's the best way to enjoy Game Night. In the end, the movie works, this way. The movie works because it has a good cast, isn't long, and is a break from all the serious movies coming out these days. It's an absurd script with chinks in the armour. Give it a chance and you may just come out having had a lot of fun for a 100 minutes.
Should you watch it?
Yes. Yes, you should watch it, whether you have time to make it to the cinema or if it is coming on TV. Just don't expect it to be a movie you'll end up thinking about for days to come after seeing it.