The duo behind the disappointing Vacation remake, John Francis Daley (remember Sam Weir from “Freaks and Geeks”?) and Jonathan Goldstein, have provided the year’s first cinematic surprise. Game Night is as unexpectedly fresh as comedies come nowadays.
Competitive couple Max and Annie (Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams) met cute at weekly trivia and apparently have been participating in weekly game nights ever since. Max’s jet-setting venture capitalist brother whom everyone adores, Brooks (Kyle Chandler), decides to stay in town for a while and host one of the get-togethers. However, the night of innocent murder-mystery goes quickly wrong when masked gunmen storm in, beating up and kidnapping Brooks. Eventually, the three couples—Max and Annie, Kevin and Michelle (Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury) and Ryan and Sarah (Billy Magnussen and scene-stealing Sharon Horgan from “Catastrophe”)—learn the bullets and blood are real.
Daley and Goldstein have crafted a comic thriller reminiscent of the 1980s but still current. Armed with his A-game, Bateman is unbeatable, and McAdams is an appropriate soulmate. Still, Jesse Plemons practically laps the pack as the way-too-creepy cop neighbor who just wants to be included in the fun. Game Night is way better than actually playing board games with friends.
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