Monday, March 5, 2018

Movie Review: Game Night

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Some laughs
Cons: Some cringe worthy moments
The Bottom Line:
Out of hand game night
Uneven laughs and plot hole
Skip, play games instead

I’ll Take a Regular Game Night, Please

I don’t think I’d even heard of Game Night until I started seeing the ads for it during the Olympics.  And they worked – the more I saw them the more I thought it might be something I’d enjoy.  I became convinced, so I gave it a chance.  I should have listened to the part of me that kept saying I wouldn’t like it.

The movie centers on Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams), a couple who meet at a trivia night and instantly fall in love.  They are both super competitive, so it is a perfect match.  They continue to host game nights with their friends, Ryan (Bill Magnussen) and his ever-revolving series of girlfriends and Jr. High sweethearts Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury).

Max has never gotten along with his brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler), and Brooks is back in town.  In fact, he insists on hosting the next game night.  When the gang arrives, he announces that he has a special game planned.  He’s hired a company to fake a kidnapping and the three couples (Ryan’s flavor of the week being Sarah, played by Sharon Horgan) will race to find the victim.  No one seems in the spirit until the kidnappers show up.  In fact, they are impressed with the realism.  Or is it too real?

What sold me on the movie is the fact that it’s a comedic mystery.  I love comedies.  I love mysteries.  I love comedic mysteries.  You see where I had to give it a shot.  Unfortunately, I found the comedy very uneven.  There were times I was laughing and fully on board.  Then a few minutes later, I’d be cringing.  This was especially true any time Ryan was around since he makes rocks look smart.  (My apologies to rocks.)  I get what was supposed to be funny, but I don’t much enjoy it when we are supposed to be laughing at characters making fools of themselves.  On the other hand, there were some great lines and scenes.  So, it was a decidedly mixed bag for me.  I know this is my personal taste.  The audience I saw it in the theater with laughed much more than I did.

I had a serious issue with the mystery element as well.  In fact, when I left the theater, I thought they had a plot hole big enough to drive a police car through.  It wasn’t until the next morning that I came up with how the events could have taken place, but I’d have to go back to watch a couple of key scenes to know for sure if I am right or not.  I know this movie is a comedy first, but I do love mysteries and expect that to hold together as well.  I’m giving this one the benefit of the doubt on the plot side of things.

The actors are wonderful throughout.  I think the only one I’ve seen before is Kyle Chandler, who plays against type perfectly here.  The rest have some classic reactions to the story as it goes along that made me laugh.

A lot of people seem to be enjoying Game Night, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped I would.  The uneven comedy makes this a movie that didn’t live up to my expectations.

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