You know what I love? Just over a month of daily sport that I know absolutely nothing about. You could write what I know about the World Cup on a postage stamp. The last time I was excited about football was when I saw Seaman on a regular basis. (Oh, behave. I was nine-years-old when I last saw David Seaman play, you sicko.)
That’s why, when I was asked to review Game Night, it was a welcome relief. It stopped me from watching Belgium v Japan. Honestly, I’m not even going to try and pretend I can pronounce any of the players’ names.
Written by Mark Perez, who hasn’t written a movie since 2008’s Accepted (which starred Justin Long, so you know it’s bad), Game Night follows a married couple, Max and Annie (Bateman and McAdams, respectively), who thrive off playing parlour games; so much so, Max proposes via Pictionary. However, their love of gaming, and probably just socialising with humans in general, is soon squashed when Max’s successful brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler) hosts a murder-mystery style evening, which soon turns out to be real when Brooks is kidnapped by actual thugs. Why can’t this sort of game-turns-out-to-be-real when I create my dream house on The Sims, and I’m married to Margot Robbie and Emily Ratajkowski?
I expected Game Night to be your average, so-so comedy. Let’s face it – with Jason ‘Office Christmas Party’ or ‘Identity Thief’ or ‘The Change-Up’ or ‘Horrible Bosses 2’ Bateman at the helm, I could’ve been forgiven for thinking so. However, despite being very Jason Bateman in this movie, he was actually very funny. He’s helped here by his co-star Rachel McAdams, and their quick back-and-forth is what really makes the movie. We all saw the trailer, where McAdams is forced to remove a bullet from Bateman’s for arm, but the extended scene is just brilliant.
The supporting cast are equally as great – I was relived to see Sharon Horgan replace the stereotypical blonde bimbo who likes taking selfies. Good lord, I’d have been relieved to see actual Adolf Hitler replace a character who likes taking selfies. I get it – people like taking photos of themselves on their camera phones. I – I honestly don’t know why that’d be funny. But Sharon is very dry and her wit is just fucking fantastic. She – similarly to Bateman and McAdams – pairs of very well with the idiot that is Billy Magnussen’s character, Ryan. I’d like to repeat, I’m calling Billy’s character an idiot; not the actor, Billy. I appreciate you may have been lost on me, after the seventh time of trying to pronounce Billy’s surname.
What I really like about Game Night is that it’s a proper adult comedy. This could’ve easily spiralled into an Apatow-inspired movie, where one person is throwing up onto a quiche that’ll soon be served to an old lady, while a group of men are frantically masturbating to – I dunno – diffuse a bomb. (Honestly, that will be used in a David Spade movie in 2019. Trust me. You saw it here first.) Instead, the movie focusses on sharp jokes and deviated from what could’ve been your paint-by-numbers comedy, with witty moments and genuinely surprising twists. It takes 2010’s Date Night, and somehow does what legends, Steve Carrell and Tina Fey, couldn’t with the action-comedy genre. (And that is the last time I’ll ever besmirch their names. I’m not even religious, but I feel like I should do a Hail Mary or two, just to cleanse my soul.)
Finally – and probably the oddest thing anyone will ever say about a comedy movie – the cinematography is just incredible. Stylistically, Game Night is just as fresh as the script itself, with several shots exceptionally steady, and following the action in a unique way, like the way it rotates around locks or chases cars. There’s also an elaborate one-take shot during an action sequence involving a Fabergé egg and a hell of a lot of running around a mansion. Or, as I like to call it, a standard Tuesday evening. Occasionally, scenes are introduced with an odd lens-filter, which alludes to the whole action appearing on a board game itself, which is a nice touch.
Obviously the movie has some flaws – their are huge plots holes throughout the picture, and some characters tend to be either a tad boring, or a bit too stereotypical, but what do you expect from a movie starring Jason Bateman? This was never going to be Schindler’s List 2. (And for the love of – I hope they never make that movie.) It’s a fun, enjoyable watch that still beats playing actual Monopoly.
Game Night is out on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital now.