We have a winner!
I walked into my screening of Game Night apprehensive. After all, a great comedy has been a long time coming. We’ve had some good ones these past couple of years, don’t get me wrong – but great? Nope.
Also, we’re at that time of the year (between the Oscar contenders and Summer Blockbusters) when the studios often dump on us the films they don’t particularly predict doing well.
So imagine my surprise when just a few minutes into Game Night, I realised ‘This is going to be a really good movie’.
The film teams up Horrible Bosses’ Jason Bateman (who also produces) with Oscar nominee Rachel McAdams (Spotlight, Dr Strange and The Notebook) – the perfect leads for a buddy movie because, well, who wouldn’t want to be their friend?
They play a competitive married couple, Max and Annie, who have regular game nights with their friends. Said friends consist of Michelle (Kylie Bunbury), Kevin (Lamorne Morris), and a womaniser named Ryan (Billy Magnussen), who usually brings a different, but equally clueless, date each week.
Joining the group one evening is Brooks (Super 8’s Kyle Chandler), Max’s better looking and more successful brother. And after finishing a particularly cliched game night, Brooks offers to host the next one at his extravagant property – offering a fancy prize for the winner.
This incentive is enough for Ryan to bring a smart and less barbie-esque work colleague named Sarah (Sharon Horgan) along to increase his chances of winning. And with Max keen to show his brother that he is no loser, everyone is ‘in it to win it’.
So, what is the game? Brooks explains that he’s hired a murder mystery party (complete with imitation thugs and faux federal agents) to fake his kidnapping – and the team that finds him first wins the game.
As promised, Brooks is taken and it’s all part of the game – right? But over the course of one chaotic night, the friends find themselves in deadly situations that may or may not be part of game night.
Throughout the duration of the movie, the tone reminded me of the raucous energy found in the first Horrible Bosses film – and it came as no surprise when I saw this had been directed by the writers of that very movie (John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein who’ve just snagged The Flash DC Comics movie gig ‘Flashpoint’).
If you appreciate the slapstick goofiness of comedies such as that, The Hangover and 1985’s Clue, then you’ll love this.
If I were to nit-pick, my only gripe is that other than Max and Annie, the rest of the group are not overly likeable. Had the supporting cast been more engaging, I would’ve cared about their safety more – making some of the dramatic scenes more tense – but this is a minor criticism to a comedy that comes wholeheartedly recommended.
It’s been quite some time since a movie has provided a laugh-out-loud riot – and no comedy in recent memory has played the game as well as this.
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Cast: Jason Bateman, Rachel Mcadams, Kyle Chandler, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury, Michael C Hall, Jeffrey Wright, Danny Huston & Chelsea Peretti
Running Time: 1 Hr 40 Mins
Director: John Francis Daley & Jonathan M Goldstein
See Game Night and much more at Showcase Cinema, Peterborough. Visit www.showcasecinemas.co.uk for the latest up-to-date show times. You can also join the chat on Twitter @showcasecinemas or on Facebook by searching for ‘Showcase Cinemas UK’