Jason Bateman (as Max): "Good idea, way to pivot". It's all about landing the punch, though, and as writers, they've posted mixed results. They wanted to keep on directing, and so I said, 'Well, I'll just step off as a director and you guys do it! "My parents bought us a new board game every Christmas and I have had some knock-down drag-out debates with my siblings over Scattergories or Taboo", she says.
All of which makes "Game Night" a lively and exciting enough romp to watch unfold, even if it is completely frivolous. The other regulars include Ryan (Billy Magnussen) and his date, Sarah (Sharon Horgan), along with the couple of Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury). He's lived in his brother's shadow his whole life. No one knows it's real, though, setting everyone on the trail of the kidnappers and creating some bloody, risky chaos as a result. Hey, there's a reason they call it adult humor and not just humor. With Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Jesse Plemons and Jeffrey Wright. She tempers some of his sarcastic edge, while he brings out a sharper side of her, and the combination proves quite winning. The film more than makes up all those years post-Wedding Crashers in which McAdams didn't do many comedies. Horgan is not above going through Brooks' wallet and duping a credit card company into giving her crucial information. There's a scene in a biker bar where she gets to cut loose, gun in hand, and it is both adorable and terrifying.
And the script eventually pushes things too far, with twists that just don't play fair. For instance they might walk up to a dead body but the person will suddenly get up or if someone is getting beaten to a pulp than no one would help him because it is believed to be a part of the game. If they can identify the right words from the clues, they earn points.
Speaking of musicals: Into the Woods vet Magnussen once again almost steals the whole show, infusing another vain himbo with just enough humanity to make him lovable instead of loathsome. This is a comedy-thriller made simply to please in the moment, and it does, for nearly every minute of its 100-minute running time. His wife, played by Kylie Bunbury, is a great foil for him, and that's certainly part of the appeal here, too. Established first as an object of scorn, the humorless Gary comes to be a sympathetic character whose amusing idiosyncrasies endear him to us and his neighbors. It is like a screwball comedy, adapted to the 21st Century, where the scenes are surprisingly extended, music and editing added only with the slightest of touches, yielding instead to shockingly violent moments peppered in between physical and/or chase scenes amidst the jokes. Successful Big Brother than meets the eye and the game is, in fact way more real than any of the players know.
"Game Night" won't change anyone's life, but if you go to the multiplex and "Black Panther" is sold out, you don't have to go home. It made me laugh so hard I cried.
One of the major problems with the action-comedy-thriller hybrid is an inarguable imbalance between the genres, the laughs taking priority above all else. Working with cinematographer Barry Peterson, Goldstein and Daley have gone out of their way here to give Game Night a sense of style and play, using tilt-shift photography to play with the various locations, nearly giving them the feel of game boards with the actors all serving as tiny game pieces. Goldstein is magnanimous enough to admit that Perez's work was one of the key draws of the film.
Brooks promises the next game night will be at the house he is renting while he is in town.