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Six close friends meet each week for a game night involving board games, charades and pop culture trivia quizzes. Being the most competitive of the bunch, Max and his wife Annie, who seem to be a perfect match in every way, usually win every time. However, their marriage is on rocky ground as Annie fears that Max doesn't want to have children. When Max's shady brother Brooks reappears after a long mysterious absence and suggests that they have their next gathering at his place, no one expects that their weekly game night is about to go to the next level as Brooks organizes a full blown murder mystery party complete with actors as criminals and cops for them. However, when Brooks is violently kidnapped in front of everyone, it turns out that the game is all too real. Now, Max, Annie, their womanizing dimwitted friend Ryan, his domineering Irish date Sarah, and their childhood friends Michelle and her husband Kevin, who's obsessed with finding out with which mysterious celebrity ...
While unlikely to ever be regarded as a classic side-splittingly hilarious comedy kingpin, Game Night is a refreshing and original mainstream experience, which is far and away the best high-profile Hollywood comedy to come our way in sometime.
Directed by Horrible Bosses writing duo and Vacation director's John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, Game Night takes the one-time nerd only board game night to the big-time as we find ourselves a part of a games night with a difference as Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdam's game loving couple Max and Annie and their collection of friends find themselves trying to rescue Max's successful brother Brooks (played brilliantly against type by Kyle Chandler) from a real-life hostage situation.
It's a high concept central idea and one that works thanks to Daley and Goldstein's assured and often imaginatively constructed direction and the ability for the film to both not take itself too seriously or not playing to the lowest common denominators.
It feels like many moons since a comedy of this ilk wasn't filled with unnecessary profanities, sex jokes and loud-mouthed side characters but thankfully Game Night largely avoids these comedic pitfalls and just focuses itself on telling a genuinely good story with a large collection of jokes that work on their own merits.
It's great to see Daley and Goldstein advance from their Horrible Bosses writing breakthrough and the relative misfire of their updating of the Vacation series as Game Night is without question the most assuredly filmed Hollywood comedy in sometime.
David Fincher himself would be proud as the duo give the film a visual flair and pizazz not often found in such genre films, from the way in which they shoot some establishing shots like a real-life board game or an eye-popping keeping's off sequence in a glamorous house, Game Night is filled with visual gems that when combined with Drive and Neon Demon composer Cliff Martinez's score, create a memorable mood and setting.
Coinciding with Daley and Goldstein's wins is the work of the films cast. Jason Bateman is as Jason Batemany as you'd expect but surrounded by the likes of Rachel McAdams (who looks like she's never had this much fun) and a downright hilarious Jesse Plemon's as Max and Annie's super awkward and potentially serial-killer like neighbour Gary, the whole cast elevate each other's work to a level that makes you hope this isn't the last game night we will be spending with this colourful bunch.
Final Say -
Like any good games night, Daley and Goldstein's film provides a lot of fun, laughs and genuinely memorable times. Game Night is Hollywood comedy filmmaking done right and by avoiding the problems that have faced its recent cohorts (overlong running times, unnecessary vulgarity, annoying characters); Game Night becomes a highly recommendable night out at the movies.
4 Fabergé egg's out of 5
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