The Game Night screening got off to a rough start. The fuzzy, seemingly-made-for-3D images left the audience bleary-eyed and screaming for a redo as soon as the first trailer began to play. After that – the screen went black and we sat in near silence for 30 minutes as the intro screen popped up and flicked back off at least another four times.
Finally, the film began to play in its intended format – after we were made to sit through the trailers again – with the audience feeling noticeably grouchier than the high energy competitors celebrating their Game Night victories onscreen.
Luckily, the tide quickly turned as self-aware jokes, slams against the far right/racism, and the charm of actors such as Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury won everyone over.
Game Night follows Bateman and McAdams as the almost-too-perfect couple Max and Annie, who bonded over their competitive natures and an equal love of games. Years later and they still throw a weekly game night with their friends Ryan (Billy Magnussen) and his various dates, Michelle (Bunbury) and her husband Kevin (Morris).
NOT invited, however, is their so-stoic-he’s-almost-a-statue neighbor Gary (Jesse Plemons), the “creepy, ex-husband” of their former pal Debbie, who has since been banished from the games… and BOY, is the feeling that FOMO.
Half the time you feel sorry for this guy for losing who he believed to be his friends… but the other half you kind of just wondering why Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley don’t just pack everything up and hightail it out of there for fear good ‘ole Gary’s going to pull a Richard Ramirez and stalk the shit out of them (or worse). They clearly don’t listen to “My Favorite Murder” (“fuck politeness!”).
The plot really kicks off when Max’s brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) comes into town, making him feel inferior with his good looks, sky-high salary, and mortifying childhood stories. He even beats him on his own turf. But when Brooks suggests a game night at HIS place, well, then he really steps over the line.
Of course, Max and Annie don’t have much time to plan their revenge, as the night quickly spirals out of control, a la similar comedies like Date Night. From there, you really can’t see what’s coming next. No spoilers ahead, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this movie, which I admittedly thought would be mediocre at best (I mean, how many stacked casts really pull out a well-rounded film?).
But the comedy is self-aware and delightfully goofy, and the cameos could not be better. Looking at you, Sharon Horgan! It didn’t hurt to find out that the film was directed by none other than Freaks and Geeks’ very own baby-faced Sam Weir (John Francis Daley).
It’s like this movie hand-picked a list of some of my favorite people from other movies and TV shows and mashed ‘em all together for the wildest ride of a comedy, and I have to say, I’m not mad about it.
Game Night has a few cheesy, rom-com-esque moments here and there – not to say I don’t love a good rom-com – but makes up for it with wacky jokes, political commentary, and jabs at itself. All in all — totally worth the price of a movie ticket (or, you know, 30 minutes sitting awkwardly without a cell phone and waiting for the projector to be fixed).