‘Game night’ review jason bateman and rachel mcadams shine in a delightful caper comedy electricity kwh calculator

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I take Game Night very seriously. Not the movie, but the night. I never played competitive sports; I fell away from videos games in my early high school years; I wasn’t even all that competitive about things like grade placement in the top of my class (I was third; it was fine). But a Game Night? I come to play. So I was automatically interested in a movie called Game Night, considering the potential therein for some hothouse drama and absurd comedy among a group of friends while games tear them apart. That’s not the movie that Game Night is delivering. Remember in Three Men and a Baby where the movie takes a break for about 25 minutes for a side plot about smuggled drugs and cops, and how it kind of involved the baby in that the baby was put in danger a few times but mostly it was just about how Ted Danson’s actor character had shit friends? Game Night is like if that interlude were the entire movie and you only got to see the cute baby at the beginning.

The above sounds like a criticism, and if I were insane enough to only accept movies that reflected my limited worldview (that worldview being that Game Nights are important and worthy of full films about them), I would throw Game Night out as a failure. But it’s not a failure. It is, in fact, a terrifically fun one-crazy-night caper where a bunch of ordinary, hyper-competitive adults get caught up in a plot involving kidnapping, drugs, and guns. Our central couple, Max and Annie (Bateman and McAdams) are a really great pair. It is shocking and terrible that it should be this remarkable to have a married couple in a mainstream comedy who truly seem to like each other and enjoy each other’s personalities. They’re peas in a pod: competitive, creative, and more than a little petty. Their usual crew of game-night pals include the married Kevin and Michelle (Morris and Bunbury) and handsome-doofus Ryan played by quintessential handsome-doofus Billy Magnussen, who deserves to be ranked among the finest single-tool players in all of Hollywood. Ryan brings his date, Sarah (Horgan), who he knows from work, and that’s our crew save for the occasional efforts to avoid Gary (Plemons), the awkward and only semi-friendly cop neighbor next door.

When Max’s big-timing brother (Kyle Chandler, playing it juuuust too sleazy to trust) shows up with a role-playing murder-mystery game, it’s easy to see where things are going. We’ve all seen movies before. But Game Night isn’t fun because it’s a whodunnit. It’s fun because it’s an escalating series of internal dares for these couples, and the case is incredibly game to go for it. After that whole business with the Arrested Development press tour, yes, Jason Bateman is cancelled, at least for a while, but come for Rachel McAdams delivering a Rose-Byrne-in- Neighbors level performance, one that once again reminds us of all the years we wasted on movies where the female lead plays a nagging wife instead of the wife who will jam to Third Eye Blind because she doesn’t know that this isn’t a game and she’s playing with a real, loaded gun.

Elsewhere, can we just get a legit romantic comedy starring Sharon Horgan and Billy Magnussen greenlit, like, yesterday? They’re wildly entertaining together, with her intelligence and British directness sparking up against his pretty idiocy. It’s a fantastic vibe with some simmering chemistry that the film only really scratches the surface of. More please.

Who we do end up getting more out of is Plemons, who lurks around the sidelines in the film’s first half, carrying his teeny dog, trying to ingratiate himself into Max and Annie’s plans, and generally looking like a lost character from The ‘burbs, which in case you’re wondering, is a huge compliment. The second half of the film, in many ways, belongs to Plemons, thanks to a plot twist that is genuinely shocking not only in what it reveals but in how it alters the tone of the film.

ALSO? In a development you’re almost certainly not prepared for, Game Night features what is hands-down one of the best film scores of the year, a synth-y, propulsive soundtrack by Drive composer Cliff Martinez. Give it a listen — you will not be disappointed:

So, no, Game Night is not a dark comedy of manners about secrets revealed and relationships tested during a particularly tense game of Celebrity (though it could be, sequel writers!). But it is a likeable, funny, and fast-moving caper that delivers on pretty much all levels. It’ll make for fantastic couch-watching.