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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Mar 23, 2018

Game Night Movie Review: A Surprisingly Good Screwball Comedy That Is Funny From Beginning Up To The End Credits

 ‘GAME NIGHT’ is a surprisingly good screwball comedy about five friends who meet every week to play games like charades, monopoly, etc. The hosts are Jason Bateman as Max and Rachel McAdams as Annie, a happily married suburban couple who met over a trivia challenge then fell in love with each other’s being so competitive. Another husband and wife team joins them, Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbufy).

Rachel has a single friend who also joins them, bringing in a new girl with him each week. This is Ryan (Billy Magnussen). On this particular night, he brings Sarah (Sharon Horgan), an Irish girl who seems quite smart. Also joining them later is Jason’s older brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler), who is engaged in the worst kind of sibling rivalry with his brother who he affects so adversely that Jason has low sperm count.

An odd man out is the humorless cop next door, Gary (Jesse Plemons), who has become such a bore since his wife left him and so he doesn’t get invited anymore, but he will do anything to be part of the game night again.

For their next game night, the competitive Brooks becomes the host in his fancy new house and he cooks up a new game that is bigger and bolder than anything they’ve played before. The concept is like that of a murder mystery dinner party where someone gets kidnapped and the rest of the participants then compete in trying to rescue the victim. The winner will get Brooks’ new car as prize.

As it would turn out, a real kidnapping occurs and it’s Brooks who’s the victim. Jason and Rachel chase down the guys who took Brooks, thinking it’s part of the game, but when Jason gets shot at, they realize something else is afoot. Real bad guys looking for a Faberge egg get into the melee, sprinkling some acts of real mayhem.

As maybe expected, true crimes get mixed up with the faked, staged ones and in the subsequent confusion, the participants have to resort to their own resourcefulness to get themselves out of absurd situations that are both alarming and comical. The movie then becomes a parody of other movies, with pop culture references and action sequences that make fun of other action scenes and even a fake cameo that is one of the most hilarious scenes in the film.

The script gives the actors some twists in the material that play on the viewers. Some of the surprises in the narrative, you might be able to predict but there’s one we’re sure you wouldn’t be able to foresee. All in all, it’s really quite funny and we hope this were better promoted so more people could have seen it. The movie is co-directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (who did “Horrible Bosses” and “Vacation”) and they do deliver what people expect from the movie: lots of laughs.

Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams have very good comic timing and even nutty chemistry as if they’re doing a hilarious buddy movie. The other cast members give all their energy and spirited commitment to the movie and have no hesitation to be buffoonish here and there. But it’s Jesse Plemons who steals some scenes as the creepy and obsessive Gary.

This is one comedy movie that does not fall apart as it manages to tie up most of the loose ends. It manages to be funny until the end credits so stay on and don’t leave the theatre right away.