Game Night

(Daley & Goldstein, 2018)

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From the creators of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Horrible Bosses comes Game Night, a comedy crime-thriller that is worth its weight in Monopoly money. The film follows Max and Annie (played by Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams), a middle-aged couple who also happen to be extremely competitive gamers. During one of their weekly game nights, Max’s brother (Kyle Chandler) arrives with an idea to have an interactive role-playing mystery game night. When the game goes wrong and a real kidnap occurs, Max, Annie, and their friends must solve a real-life crime and avoid being killed in the process.

While the film features extremely competent writing and directing, its true strength comes from the cast’s commitment to the premise. Bateman, Adams, Chandler and the others hold nothing back, delivering hilarious performances throughout. That being said, there is no cast member who shines brighter than Jesse Plemons. Plemons plays Gary, Max and Annie’s police officer neighbor and former game night attendee. Though mostly known for his TV work in shows like Breaking Bad and Black Mirror, Plemons is the standout actor in this film, delivering a performance that is simultaneously gut-busting, heart-wrenching and downright creepy.

Though the plot can be muddled at times, Game Night deserves credit for not underestimating its audience, as many modern comedies do. By maintaining its level of complexity throughout, Game Night makes for a smart mainstream comedy from a storyline that could have easily been esoteric. With enough twists and turns to keep you engaged and enough laughs to tickle your funny bone, Game Night is a satisfyingly competent film that balances both sides of its comedy-thriller genre. ★★★★

David Merkle