Directors: John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein
Writer: Mark Perez
Cast: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Billy Magnussen. Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury, Chelsea Peretti, Danny Huston, Michael C. Hall, Kyle Chandler
Recently I’ve been reading over a lot of my posts in the “You Should Be Watching…” series and I noticed something… typos… a whole lot of typos… and I’m working on it I promise! (I might need to hire an editor). Outside of the obvious typo thing, I noticed something else; the films that I’ve been recommending lately have all been really depressing, another one like the ones before and I might need to rename this “You Should Be Watching… something I recommended if you want to question the meaning of existence and your own self-worth”, yeesh, talk about projecting much. So we’ll take a break from our regular scheduled programming and watch something ‘fun’ this time. I know, I can’t believe it either!
I feel like studios add the word “night” on your the end of titles to make average films sound more appealing, because for some reason studio logic dictates that everything is better when it happens after dark and audiences be more willing to pay to go and see it (‘About Last Night (2014)’, ‘Night School (2018)’, etc). For that reason going into “Game Night” I decided that it would be the last time that I fell for that trick, if it wasn’t good I would never watch a film with “night” in the title again. After watching it I can say they’ve well and truly roped me back in again, dammit Hollywood!
“Game Night” is an unpredictable mess from start to finish and that’s what makes it so fun to watch! If you’re a fan of films that keep escalating in absurdity and abandon the notion of plausibility altogether then this is your film.
Max and Annie’s weekly game night gets kicked up a notch when Max’s brother Brooks arranges a murder mystery party — complete with fake thugs and federal agents. So when Brooks gets kidnapped, it’s all supposed to be part of the game. As the competitors set out to solve the case, they start to learn that neither the game nor Brooks are what they seem to be. The friends soon find themselves in over their heads as each twist leads to another unexpected turn over the course of one chaotic night. (Rotten Tomatoes)
If you’ve watched Jason Bateman in the amazing Netflix series “Ozark”, you’ll have to untrain your mind from seeing him as the family man who’s gotten in too deep with the cartel. This time around he’s just Max, a man who likes to play games with his wife and friends on the weekend. Jason Bateman is perfect for these type of roles, if you’ve seen “Horrible Bosses (2011)” or “Couples Retreat (2009)” you’ll know that he’s probably the best in the business at playing the “everyman”. He always seems to be that normal guy who ends up in situations that leave him in over his head and I’d pay to see it every time, plus he’s alongside Rachel McAdams and what’s there not to like about Rachel McAdams? Absolutely nothing! Rachel McAdams is like hot sauce put her on anything and it’ll instantly be better for it (Mean Girls, About Time, etc).
She’s always casted in roles that play on her charm, but I don’t think that many of her roles allow her to utilise her comedic talents (which are criminally underrated if you ask me), thankfully this one does. The relationship between Annie and Max doesn’t feel like they’re trying to force it down your throat the whole film. It’s easy to see that they love each other, but there aren’t fireworks between them, it feels more like ‘light bulbs’, something warm and consistent as oppose to something sporadic and unpredictable. Good onscreen chemistry will always sell a relationship better than unnecessary sex scenes and these two are a prime example of that.
When watching “Game Night” you get the impression that the writer (Mark Perez) really pushed himself to try and make this all make sense at the end and there’s no way that this was all written in one sitting. It has the vibe of something that was written and then re-written and then thrown in the bin and then taken back out of the bin and stapled to another sheet of paper from a previous draft before finally coming to the conclusion of “yeah, I can make this work”. It’s really creatively written and there are elements of different games scattered throughout the film if you keep your eyes peeled, it’s like Jumanji meets Guess Who? meets Monopoly meets Jenga, but somehow it sticks the landing and all together by the end. Just to give you an idea of how absurd it all is, there’s a scene with a bullet, a squeaky dog toy and a bottle of chardonnay and bare in mind this is all set to the backdrop of an ongoing murder mystery. You can probably tell by now that being confused is a big part of the film… the characters are confused, the audience is confused, we’re all confused, but we’re confused together and that’s what makes it all so enjoyable.
Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams are definitely the main protagonists in this film but it’s an ensemble cast, so be prepared not to see them all of the time. This ensemble cast is large in talent but also in numbers and that worried me a little bit going into the film. Directors often struggle to accommodate everyone and give them enough screen time to do their thing, which leads to the side characters not being developed enough to maintain your interest when the main ones aren’t on screen. “Game Night” bucks the trend and introduces a host of characters throughout the film who all have their own unique quirks and probably share characteristics of people you know in real life. The murder mystery plot lends itself to characters going on their own journeys, so by default they’re given the necessary amount of screen time they need to shine, in particular Gary (Jesse Plemons) and Brooks (Kyle Chandler). Jesse Plemons plays a creepy Cop and is easily my favourite character in the whole film. We ALL know that one person that we’d rather not invite to the link-up because we know that they’re just going to make things weird and he Plemons sells the weirdo vibe to the fullest and is a perfect reminder of why inclusivity doesn’t extend to all social functions. As desperate as you may be for that extra player or as bad as you might feel for not asking them to join in, trust your instincts and DON’T INVITE THAT PERSON!!
Overall, I think the reason “Game Night” works so well is because underneath all of the theatrics and slapstick humour, it’s a story about real people dealing with real issues; reconciling with indefinitely, rebuilding a fractured relationship with a sibling, finding a way to stay connected with friends throughout adulthood. It just happens to be that they’re trying to do all of that whilst dealing with some things that would NEVER happen in really life. Definitely worth a watch!
It’s fun, trust me!
What Was Your Favourite Scene In The Film? Did You Have Any Expectations Going Into The Film And Were They Different From What The Film Turned Out To Be? Who Was Your Favourite Character?
As Usual Comments Are Encouraged!