Where to begin with Game Night? Well, let’s just say that a dog getting blood sopped into its fur isn’t the most fucked up thing you’ll see in this movie, not by a long shot. This film is immensely fun from beginning to end, because like many adult comedies these days, the movie is very much not afraid to go there. But where this movie separates itself from other R-rated fare is in the inherent relatability of the characters, and the sheer wit and pace of the dialogue.
Jason Bateman stars as Max, a regular ass guy with irregular ass sperm. He’s trying to have a baby with his wife Annie, played with giddy aplomb by Rachel McAdams. The couple is super-competitive, having met at a bar trivia night (ah, memories, I used to host those games – super fun), and their storybook courtship all revolves around their love of games. Now married and trying to conceive, they host game night at their rather nice house every Friday. Max has an older brother named Brooks, who’s apparently very successful, and Annie supposes the pressure of sibling rivalry keeps Max’s swimmers from going properly.
The dynamics are instantly established at the first game night. You have Max and Annie, who always win. There’s Kevin and Michelle, middle school sweethearts who’ve never been with anyone else, except for that one time, which creates a funny side-plot. Then there’s Ryan, who’s an idiot, and he brings a different “Instagram model” over as his “date” every week. For the main action he brings in a “ringer” in the form of his Irish (he thinks she’s British) coworker Sarah. Finally, there’s Jesse Plemons as the delightfully creepy cop, Gary, who used to come to game night every week, but after his divorce everyone kind of disowned him. Literally every character is someone you either know or embody yourselves. That creates a familiarity that elevates the enjoyment of the almost Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker level of comedy.
Brooks, ever the one-upper, decides to host the ultimate game night by staging a kidnapping, murder mystery interactive game. And that’s when everything goes awry. Brooks is kidnapped, not by actors, but by actual gangsters. Thus ensues a three-way chase from each pair (while staying away from Gary as much as possible) to find Brooks, thinking it’s all part of the game.
The film has a few flaws, namely the cliche of working through relationship issues through stressful situations. Also, there are way too many bits of product placement (one of the early jokes to avoid Gary is claiming that the grocery store sold a certain brand of tortilla chips 3-for-1; I won’t say which brand because they’re not paying me anything) as well as currently topical pop culture references that may be dated as soon as the movie comes out on DVD (for example, Ryan believes everything he reads on Buzzfeed).
Still, apart from those minor gripes, this film is hysterical. You can tell the entire cast had a ton of fun filming it. Everything from Rachel McAdams dancing to Third Eye Blind while holding a gun to an absolutely golden shtick involving Ryan trying to bribe Chelsea Peretti for hints in the game that is very much no longer a game.
I don’t want to give away too much, because some of these jokes and bits just have to be experienced. The year is young, but this has a chance to be one of the funniest movies of 2018. It’s definitely the best so far. I understand I’m being intentionally vague, but trust me, you’re going to guffaw a good couple of times with this, especially if you’re a fan of games like me. I have to say, I think my roommates and I need to step up our own game nights. If nothing else, see this movie for Jesse Plemons and his poor man’s Matt Damon look, combined with a sense of comic timing bordering on stalking.
Join the conversation in the comments below! What was your favorite gag? How awesome was it to see Chelsea Peretti? I know I’ve been missing her on TV! Have you ever seen a grown man naked? Let me know!