Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Game Night (2018) - Comedy Crime Film Review

I don't know exactly why but I had in my mind ever since I first saw the trailer for Game Night that it was a horror. Of course it isn't, instead it is a darkly comic crime thriller, but I had been planning to write a review of it and I have no time to do another blog post today and so a review I shall do. Jason Bateman (The Gift) stars in this and I have never liked him in anything outside of Arrested Development, yet here I found his presence not to be that bad.

Game obsessed couple Max (Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams - Red Eye) host weekly game nights that their best friends always come to. One day Max's successful brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler - Super 8) turns up in town, he invites the group to his rented house so that he can host his own game night. He tells them that he has arranged a murder mystery type game; one of the group are going to be kidnapped and the rest must follow clues to find out where the person is being held. Not long after telling this two men break into the house, beat-up Brooks and kidnap him, the rest all thinking it is part of his game don't take it seriously. Splitting into pairs the friends all try their own ways to find and rescue Max's brother, not realising that he was actually kidnapped for real by some legitimate criminals...

Game Night was a funny film, though I saw this on my own in a moderately busy cinema I still laughed out loud on at least a handful of occasions. When it wants to be this film can be hilarious, but with so many jokes there were a fair few that fell flat for me, such as topical ones about Donald Trump, or references to current Marvel movies. The comedy comes both from the dialogue and physical gags, out of the six friends each of them had their moment to shine, but it was Billy Magnussen (Black Mirror) as the dumb Ryan who gave me the most laughs due to how over the top thick he was, a scene when he is trying to bribe a woman with a pitiful amount of money was perfect due to how slowly he was giving her the cash (funnier than it sounds). Another great character was played by Jesse Plemons (also Black Mirror). His character was a very creepy next door neighbour cop who was perfect with his really awkward scenes and his complete lack of emotion in his delivery of his lines, coupled with complete lack of facial expressions.

The problem with comedies that also have outwardly serious plot lines such as murder and kidnapping is that when the high action pieces happen, especially the finale it all goes a bit too silly and safe. This sadly happens here with a nice surprise in the form of Michael C. Hall (Dexter) as a bad guy, but one who lacks any sort of threat due to being a bad guy in a comedy film. A lot of the more action focused scenes do manage to marry serious and silly well though, an early fight, a car chase, a hostage situation all manage to straddle the line well with there even being a small body count by films end. While this was very funny in places I never felt the bad jokes detracted at all, there are so many that it never felt too bad when some miss. It was good to see a lack of toilet humour as well, and aside from one bloody dog, and a bullet wound disgusting humour is also kept to a minimum.

The plot was fun enough but hardly ever mind blowing, there were twists and turns along the way but nothing that would be memorable. I found it the funniest when the group didn't realise what was happening was actually real, such as when Annie takes a group of men hostage in a bar not realising the gun she is waving around is real (very reminiscent of Jonah Hill in This is the End). When they become clued in it was still entertaining but the situations never seemed as crazy.

Game Night isn't a horror film, aside from the home invasion angle this is a straight up comedy crime mystery all the way though. However it was quite funny in places and served as a pretty good bit of escapism and so for me I thought it was a good film.


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