"They didn't have rubbing alcohol, so I got you this lovely chard". "Treat Game Night as though it is a thriller".
Intriguingly versatile actor-filmmaker John Francis Daley ("Bones") and directing partner Jonathan Goldstein ("Vacation") are smart enough to wink at their story's improbability.
Totally deadpan and hilarious, he's a lonely cop who never takes off his uniform and who always suspects he's being excluded from "game night", leaving Max and Annie to weasel their way out of invitations.
The one-liners in this movie killed me; they felt completely natural and brought in references to pop culture and other sources that added to the comedy.
Every one seems stuck in a stasis of stability and that upwardly mobile fear of "More?" that the game board or sketch pad provides a modicum of control and tingle of excitement that can sustain them through the next week of paint swatches and trips to Home Depot and fertility tests. While it's a formula that can be brilliant and/or fun (see: everything from "After Hours" to "Adventures in Babysitting"), recent efforts have seemed to result in features that feel more like extended Saturday Night Live sketches - a gimmick stretched far past its worth and padded with some auto chases and contrived heart.
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Specifically not invited, however, is odd next-door neighbor Gary (Jesse Plemons), who wears his police uniform long after work hours, goes outside carrying his fluffy white dog and has been even less enjoyable to be around since his ex left him. Max and Annie have an infertility issue, possibly because his brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler, looser than usual) is coming to visit. He's lived in his brother's shadow his whole life. Between murder mystery games, a real kidnapping and relationship issues for everyone you aren't quite sure exactly what is going on at all times. No one knows it's real, though, setting everyone on the trail of the kidnappers and creating some bloody, risky chaos as a result. If they can identify the right words from the clues, they earn points.
Bateman and McAdams have nice chemistry, but more importantly they completely sell the farce. McAdams needs to do more comedy as she is excellent at it. Horgan is not above going through Brooks' wallet and duping a credit card company into giving her crucial information. But, as you can tell from the trailer, Bateman gets shot. It both stars and is constructed for the type of person who approaches films like trivia questions. It also helps that they get some real value out of the supporting cast.
The actor looks happy to be part of something that is not an existential hellscape (Breaking Bad, Black Mirror, Black Mass, Hostiles).
Bateman was impressed with the two of them throughout the filming of their sophomore effort. Lamorne Morris, consistently a stealth weapon on The New Girl, has plenty of opportunity to shine as he struggles with a piece of knowledge dropped on him during a drinking game early in the evening. The laughter is pretty much nonstop and, walking out of the theater, I felt it was a movie I really wanted to watch again soon. His wife, played by Kylie Bunbury, is a great foil for him, and that's certainly part of the appeal here, too.
However, raise the stakes to possible involve death and I think we're in for a fun time. His decade's resume is a list of R-rated raunchfests, from "Office Christmas Party" to the "Horrible Bosses" flicks, that were usually more dumb than fun. They're such poor sports that it's not exactly credible that they would still have any friends willing to play games with them, but the demands of the story of course require that they do. Meanwhile, amusing bits from Sharon Horgan and Lamorne Morris, in particular, keep the larger "Game Night" ensemble from letting the storyline lag.