An enjoyable twist on the murder mystery genre, Game Night takes a simple premise and turns it into anything but. A small group of friends, shockingly, enjoy game nights. Of course, this particular night contains no normal game; in fact, someone will be kidnapped, and the rest of the group will need to survive while finding the victim via clues left by FBI agents to win.
The story is centered around a strong but extremely competitive couple, Max (Patrick Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams), who met at a trivia night. The trip from their first meeting to marriage is extremely brisk, which is appreciated from a audience perspective, as directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein are more interest in establishing the unhealthy competitiveness between the two.
Bateman’s Max is the type of character he has played for three seasons on Arrested Development. Well intentioned, but often unintentionally passive-aggressive. His polite nature betrays the person he really is. But really, he is a nice guy who puts up with a ton of crap because, well hey, its family, right?
Although McAdams’ competitive energy matches Bateman, he steals most scenes as Max seems specifically written for him. Over the course of the film, both their quirks and their relationship are explored as we learn that stress could be a problem for Max, and his sperm, as his brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) is coming to town. Max understandably hates his brother as Brooks humiliates him in front of close friends and one-ups him at every opportunity. While we get to know the couple well, and Brooks to some extent, very little about shared about their friends. But this is a comedy, the characters don’t need a ton of depth if they make you laugh. And for the most part, they do.
Outside this circle of friends is Gary (Jesse Plemons) who Max goes to great lengths to hide the game nights from. After we first meet Gary this is instantly understandable. At first it seems like Plemons is over-doing the ‘creepy neighbour’ bit, but the over-the-top nature of the performance makes it clear hethat it is clear that his character is played like this for laughs. His mannerisms and way of talking are incredibly bizarre and exaggerated, making for a type of humour not dissimilar from Get Out; in that the almost alien behaviour of Gary cause viewers to chuckle at the sheer weirdness of the scene he is in.
Despite focusing mainly on comedy, the action is adequate if a little uneven. There is a fight scene that is well choreographed while also being funny; however, other action scenes feel a tad rushed, with the comedy feeling forced.
Scrabble? Drinking games? Charades?! Who even needs video games when the host of the party accurately states to his guests: “You will not know what is real and what isn’t real”. And neither will you; Game Night hides its cards well.