Friday, 9 March 2018

Game Night

While Game Night has not been receiving four-star reviews, critics have generally appreciated it, at least enough for me, with an interest in games and a love of the film The Game, to take a chance and watch it. That was a mistake.

There are some similarities, but Game Night is nothing at all like The Game. The similarities involve a premise in which someone has orchestrated a ‘game’ with players caught up in criminal events that seem all to real. The action revolves around Max and Annie (Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams), a game-loving couple who host a weekly game night. Before his divorce, the game night included their neighbour, Gary (Jesse Plemons), but now they intentionally keep him out. Game night regulars include Kevin and Michelle (Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury) and Ryan (Billy Magnussen), who brings a different woman along each week. This week it’s a British colleague named Sarah (Sharon Horgan), and this week there’s twist. Max’s brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler), the successful one in the family (though Max and Annie hardly seem to be suffering), is not a game night regular, but he’s hosting this game night in his rented mansion. He’s the one who has orchestrated this thriller game, so no one is concerned when he gets kidnapped right in front of them, even when a considerable amount of violence is involved. It’s just part of the game, they think.

At this point, I was still having fun. The acting was good (especially Bateman, McAdams and Plemons), the dialogue was often sharp, and the jokes were somewhat funny. But when Max and Annie follow the kidnappers and try to free Brooks, he tells them that this is not part of the game. The next thing you know, Annie drops a loaded gun and Max is shot in the arm. Every single scene involving that wound (and there are far too many) is ludicrous in the extreme and from that point on Game Night is just stupid instead of funny and entertaining, with twists along the way that were neither surprising nor credible.

Directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, Game Night gets **+. My mug is down for this disappointing comedy thriller.

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