Hot Take: Shockingly, it works. Fun, funny comedy that made me laugh out loud more than a few times.
I think my first thought when seeing the trailer for Game Night was something along the lines of “Wow, this is going to be dumb.” And while it might not be the most intelligent comedy in the world, it did something really smart that you almost never see from a comedy. Rather than reveal the funniest scenes of the film in the trailer and then make the audience slowly realize they could have stayed home and gotten just as many laughs from the YouTube trailer as they did in the theater, Game Night teased its best comedy bits in the trailer and then expanded on them in the movie. In addition to the funny scenes from the trailer, Game Night had a number of laughs beyond its trailer and might be funnier than anything that was released in the last 12 months… although Ingrid Goes West might have been funnier.
Game Night features Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as Max and Annie, a married couple who met at Quizzo and form an overly competitive partnership that love to host game nights with friends and trounce them at any competition. They are also trying to have a child but Max’s stress levels are seemingly too high which are attributed to his highly competitive nature and his feelings of inadequacy when compared to his highly successful and more attractive brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler). This sets up a game night with Brooks and the couple’s closest friends — Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury), a young black married couple who have been together since they were 14 and Ryan (Billy Magnussen) and his latest date which through a montage we learn is typically a self-involved, unintelligent and highly attractive young blonde — in which Brooks shows up in Max’s dream car, a Corvette Stingray, tells an embarrassing story and destroys Max in the game of the night. When Brooks invites the group to his rental house for a game night they’ll never forget, Annie decides to work with Max to bring down Brooks at the next game night.
Both Bateman and McAdams exhibit great, believable chemistry in the main roles. Jessie Plemons as neighbor Gary, a cop who used to be invited to game night with his ex-wife Debbie but now that Debbie is gone is no longer asked to join, steals almost every scene he is in. The rest of the characters all have their moments, too. While Max and Annie are the main characters, the film adequately and effectively distributes enough time and energy on the rest of the cast to make it feel like an ensemble piece even though there’s obviously main characters and a central storyline. It’s pacing is impressive, too, as the jokes come rapid fire to the point where even the ones that miss fall away quickly because there’s another funny moment right behind it.
Obviously, most cineplexes are filled with Black Panther showing on multiple screens. Right now, though, it’s not the only option and Game Night is a balanced, hilarious comedy with enough twists and turns to keep it interesting and an impressive pace that makes 100 minutes feel much shorter. There are moments of dark comedy but beneath its slightly dark surface is a subtly sweet story. There are dumb jokes done intelligently and a balance of seriousness and silliness that make the over-the-top gags that much more effective. Dare I say it? Game Night is a must see comedy for those who love to laugh and feel there’s been a lack of that at the theater for a while.
There’s more than jokes here. The story might be far fetched but there’s enough twists and turns to make it more than the laughs that deliver.
Are you going to see Black Panther again? Yup, you are.