Turn off the Lights

Game Night Review

"A fun night out"
R-rated comedies have been a staple for Hollywood since the success of The Hangover - relatively cheap films that are highly profitable but often a lazy form of filmmaking. Fortunately, Game Night is an R-rated comedy that stands above many of its competitors. Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) are a highly competitive married couple who spend one night a week playing games with their friends. The one issue affecting them is Max's inferiority complex whenever he has to spend time with his older brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler). When Brooks sets up a kidnap mystery party Max and Annie are determined to win and humiliate the older sibling. But the kidnapping mystery becomes more dangerous than the participants first anticipate. An issue with many R-rating comedies is that the filmmakers, writers and comedians think that constant swearing is a substitute for good jobs and are just bland, uninspired films that merge together. Game Night is elevated because of its cast and being visually distinctive. Game Night was directed by the duo John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein and written by Mark Perez whose previous credits are unremarkable -Game Night is a big improvement for all involved. The film has a flash to it and the directing duo do provide a lot of great sequences like a fight in Brooks' house - when the participants of the gameplay - keep away with a valuable object and the final action set-piece at an airfield. It is visually more ambitious than most comedies which look rather flat and boring. Daley and Goldstein are set to direct Flashpoint for the DCEU and based on their work on Game Night they look like they can step up for the action genre. Game Night also has a great comedic cast. Bateman and McAdams have experience in the comedy and generally do well in it and they are backed up by some incredible talent. The cast includes Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe), Lamorne Morris (New Girl), Kylie Bunbury and Jesse Plemons (BattleshipAmerican Made and The Post) and they are all exceptional. The filmmakers split the characters into pairs and they have their own dynamics: Max and Annie are trying for a baby, Kevin (Morris) and Michelle (Bunbury) have been together since they were in middle school but find out a secret that shakes their relationship and Ryan (Magnussen) and Sarah (Horgan) deny they have feelings for each other. These character dynamics and relationships enhance the comedy and drama in the film.  All of them have a moment to shine and my personal favorite was Magnussen, the dim-wit of the group and I enjoyed the running joke where he says Sarah is British when she's really Irish. Plemons was brilliant at playing Max and Annie's police officer neighbor and being completely unhinged - he was wonderfully creepy (continuing from his work in Black Mirror) and added a lot of uncomfortable humor to the film. The film also got some talented actors to play in smaller roles like Danny Huston, Jeffrey Wright and Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Chelsea Peretti and they all do a decent job. The standard practice with many modern Hollywood comedy is simply getting a comedian to ad-lib and give them loose direction. Game Night is much more structured compared to many of its contemporaries and this gives the film more focus. Throughout the film there are witty lines and exchanges. There were also some fun visual gags and the final acts include some fine subversions of the action genre - great for any action nuts. Game Night is one of the better R-rated comedies to come out of Hollywood in recent years, having a great cast, fun jokes and a breezy running time. It has found a sweet spot of being mainstream enough for most audiences and being visually and comedic a bit more daring.
  • A talented cast
  • Visually ambitious
  • Better than most recent R-rated comedies
  • Some plot holes
  • Humor is a little sporadic


Meet the Author

Follow Us