Game Night, the days of old when families would gather around on a designated night of the week and play board games. Wholesome family past times, or commercialism at its best? You are not a normal, good family if you do not play games together once a week, buy our stuff. Board games have seen a surge in popularity for people in their 20’s and 30’s and even older. Long are the days of going to loud sticky clubs in order to socialize. Now you can do it in the comfort of your own home (or that of others) reliving your youth through that of games and crushing your opponent’s souls and ruining friendships with healthy competition.
Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) are competitive gamers who seem to have finally met their match. Two peas in a pod, the couple that games together stays together are now the designated friends who host game night. The two have the unfortunate luck to still live next to their neighbor Gary (Jesse Plemons) who is a cop and the ex-husband of their old friend. Not wanting to invite Gary to their party the friends are advised to park far away and sneak into the house to avoid inviting him to game night. When Max’s brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) shows up in Max’s dream car making a grand entrance, he tries to make it up to them by inviting everyone to his flashy rental home for the next game night. Brooks has hired a company that stages a kidnapping of one of the gaming participants and provides detectives and clues to lead you to your friend. When real kidnappers show up to the party everyone is impressed by how real things appear to be before the reality of the situation sets in.
Game Night has a cute way of panning in and out on certain scenes of the movie on model scenes and game pieces that transform into the scene as it narrows in on the characters. It even has fun gaming sounds, though these are more reminiscent of video games than board games. Despite the fact that the movie revolves around someone being kidnapped during what they thought was a game, Game Night is a comedy. I actually like Jason Bateman and it is hard not to love Rachel McAdams so it was this duo that really caught my attention for the movie. I was really looking forward to a great comedy starring the pair and ready for a good time and many laughs. It may be this hype and high hopes that I had that set me up for failure…
There were many times throughout the movie that the comedy felt forced. I could actually feel my body being pulled to the screen, a force begging me and urging me to laugh. I wanted to laugh so badly, but it rarely came. It would seem the guy in the row behind me was prepared for this by showing up to the movie high and laughing at anything and everything during the beginning of the film before his high dissipated and he was focused on his munchies. The movie was set up for greatness and it really did have good intentions and some great ideas. I felt at times that the cast must have had so much fun making this film and you could see that, but the fun was all left on the other side of the camera and not shared with the audience. Despite my grumblings, I didn’t hate the movie. Will I ever watch it again? Unlikely. Would I recommend you see it? I wouldn’t go that far. Is it the worst movie ever made? No. So that’s a pretty positive thing to say about it, right? There were a few laughs but not as many as I would have expected. I’d skip the theatre and leave this one for a lazy Netflix night.