Despite its well-worn premise, with solid actors, acerbic dialogue, and a quick pace, Game Night is a far funnier experience than it deserves to be. Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) are an ultra-competitive couple that host a regular game night with a disparate group of friends. When Max’s older brother (Kyle Chandler), drops into town and tries to one up their game, a grand case of mistaken identity follows involving multiple deaths, a bloody dog, and an airplane chase cribbed from one of the Fast and Furious movies. It doesn’t matter which.
Bateman and McAdams have a great chemistry, and they are both such natural performers that every ridiculous twist feels a tad bit more real in their hands. As their group of friends – Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury play a long-term couple having a film-long argument over a prior indiscretion, the payoff of which is as insipid as it is pointless. Billy Magnussen is the shallow and dim Ryan who generally brings a dumb fashion plate only slightly smarter than he is, but this night he brings his older co-worker, the witty and above-it-all Sarah (Catastrophe’s Sharon Horgan). Magnussen really excels at playing vapid idiocy and hits every line out of the park. His genial charm never gets tiresome and Horgan’s mature foil reveals a playful chemistry between the two. While Chandler doesn’t really have much to do, his fellow Friday Night Light’s alum Jesse Plemmons, as a stone-faced cop, wrings laughs from his stoic face. Chelsea Peretti and Michael C. Hall pop in for quick and forgettable cameos.
The movie goes off the rails a bit too much in the end. It doesn’t quite strike the right tone, but it still manages to be funny throughout and takes a bow before wearing out its welcome.
My Grade – C+