REVIEW: ‘Game Night’ Has A Fun Concept But Doesn’t Deliver Enough Laughs

With a cast like “Game Night” features, one would hope that a solid comedy can be found. Unfortunately, as a finished product, the movie isn’t a winner.

Primarily, the film is about a married couple, Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams). The two are immensely competitive and often hold game nights with their friends where they play anything from Scrabble to Charades.

Despite his competitiveness, though, the one person Max can’t seem to beat in competitions is his brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler). Brooks often tries to upstage Max and even hosts his own game night at his luxurious home, impressing many of Max’s friends. However, the game Brooks set up, a pretend murder mystery, ends up going wrong when a kidnapping occurs, leaving Max and his friends to solve real crimes.

“Game Night” is somewhat in the same category as last year’s film “The House.” More or less, it’s about putting law abiding, middle class people into crime situations and hijinks follow. While the concept does thrust the characters into some over-the-top situations, though, many of the comedic attempts are repeated too many times or have a ‘few and far in between’ symptom, with too much dialogue related to weak subplots.

For example, one of the married couples that attend Max and Annie’s game night spend much of their screen arguing over an incident that’s been used in other movies before and has very little payoff.

Additionally, “Game Night” gets dragged down by a series of twists that basically are set up as jokes. More or less, the joke is whether or not something is just set up as a game/prank or if it’s real. The problem is that “Game Night” just runs this into the ground by repeating it too many times.

I was also somewhat surprised that a movie called “Game Night” had very little related to games. I figured maybe the characters would have to play games as a ways to move forward or use their trivia knowledge, but that wasn’t really the case here. Instead it was just used as a setup.

The cast does help things, though. Jason Bateman is always reliable in comedies and it’s no different here. He also has a solid chemistry with McAdams, who’s also pretty good in the picture.

The best cast member, though, is likely Jesse Plemons, who really comes through playing the awkward neighbor. Once he’s in the film more, his character becomes one of the funnier people to watch.

The rest of the characters are a bit hit or miss, though, and the film may have benefited by reducing the amount of people on screen and narrowing the focus on just a few.

“Game Night” does fortunately have a fairly short runtime, clocking in at just an hour and 40 minutes, so it’s not a huge time commitment. Still, this isn’t one to rush out to the theaters for. Check it out on a rental if you want a simple comedy. 2.5 out of 5.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

My name is Matthew Liedke. I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, but I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I now write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead where I studied journalism and film. Outside of film, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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