Thursday 6 September 2018

Game Night ★★★★☆

‘Game Night’ is the newest film directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (both writers for ‘Spiderman: Homecoming’). Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams), probably the most competitive couple in the whole of the US, host weekly game nights with their friends Michelle (Kylie Bunbury) and Kevin (Lamorne Morris), a married couple who have been together since high school, and Ryan (Billy Magnussen), who brings along a different Instagram-obsessed date each week. They’re usually really fun but, much to Max’s disappointment, their friends always seem to get more hyped with his charming and cash-flaunting brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) is in town. After a particularly tension-filled Friday night Brooks invites them all over to his place for the following Friday, where he claims he’s going to host the game night to beat them all.

Max and Annie begrudgingly decide to go, all the while trying to avoid their creepy neighbour Gary (Jesse Plemons), ex-husband of one of their friends who they now don’t invite to their weekly game nights. When they get to Brooks’ house they realise that they’re going to be participating in a murder mystery-style night, where the goal is to find out who has kidnapped Brooks and where he has been taken to, the winner receiving his prized Cortina. Something goes horribly wrong though and the group find themselves in a real-life kidnapping scenario, not knowing what is fact, and what is fiction.

Sometimes I find that comedies have a really great premise, but they don’t live up to what could have been due to poor direction or stale and unoriginal humour. I had this issue with ‘The House’, a film with similar content that I reviewed earlier this year. Thankfully this was not the case with ‘Game Night’, which was witty and hilarious all the way through. The comedy is an interesting mixture of dark, slapstick, and downright bizarre, but with a ‘Comedy of Errors’ feel to it, it works. Occasionally some jokes were a little try-hard, but on the whole, they were really funny and there were definitely side-splitting moments that will stay memorable for a long time. 

I really enjoyed the balance between comedy and thriller, and the storyline really worked well. Although it was set over just one night, there was a clear structure to the story, and each act had its own pull, with lots of twists and a nice way of tying together at the end. The film is directed excellently, and the cinematography is wonderful in itself, combining tilt-shift landscapes to replicate the feel of a board game to first person action shots that make you feel like you’re the one playing the game.

What really makes the film is the chemistry between the characters - each character is original and brings something to the table, with excellent character development and interplay throughout. They aren’t just seven friends but a group of real personalities with layers of history and conflict, from Michelle and Kevin arguing as the night, progresses about a situation in their relationship that happened ten years ago to Ryan and Sarah (Sharon Horgan) fighting over whether or not they’re actually on a date. There isn’t a single actor or actress who gave a less than great performance, but I felt that Rachel McAdams really made the role of Annie her own, and Jesse Plemons was wickedly creepy as Gary. He’s an actor that I want to see in more as he never fails to disappoint whatever the character he’s cast as. His role isn’t actually that important until later on in the film, but from the very beginning, he really makes it. 

‘Game Night’ is a witty and entertaining dark comedy, with a far-fetched yet playful script and complex and layered plot that makes it more than just a bit of Friday night fun. 

Hannah Read

Game Night at CeX

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