Director John Frances Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
Genre Comedy | Mystery
Cast Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, Jesse Plemons, Kyle Chandler
Release Date February 23rd, 2018
Written and directed by John Frances Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, Game Night is a R-rated comedy about a group of friends who meet weekly for their traditional "Game Night" and find themselves knee deep in an all too real murder mystery. Daley is an actor who I remember most as Ryan Reynolds trainee in the 2005 restaurant comedy "Waiting…", which I personally consider to be a cult classic, and I think anyone who has worked in the food industry can agree. This is Daley's 2nd feature-film, and the 2015 comedy Vacation was his directorial debut, same with Goldstein. Daley and Goldstein also co-wrote the screenplay for Horrible Bosses 1 & 2. The cast for Game Night includes Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Sharon Horgan, Billy Magnussen, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury, and Jesse Plemons.
With an excellent cast lead by Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, Game Night is smart, creative, and most of all unapologetically hilarious. This is one of those rare comedies that not only lives up to the expectations set by the trailers, it exceeds them. With a premise that could have easily spilled over into the goofy comedy realm, Game Night keeps its composure to create one of the best R-rated comedies in recent memory. This is a perfect example of bringing together the right group of people – everyone from the directors, to the writers, and the cast, in order to create something that feels fresh and unique. The pacing is seamless to the point where the movie absolutely flies by, filling each moment with a hilarious one-liner ridiculous fight scene. I wish these characters were my friends in real-life so I could do whatever it takes to get an invite to all of the fun, minus the risk of being shot or brutally beaten of course.
Game Night sets the stage quickly with a simple backstory, and this allows the characters to develop naturally. Comedies have the distinct advantage in the fact that you really don’t need to go too in depth with the characters to be effective. Rarely is a comedy 110% engaging right from the start, at least in my experience anyway, yet Game Night had me begging for more before I was even introduced to the full cast. Very little time is wasted on unnecessary backstory, just enough to understand the dynamic between the main characters, and from there the fun starts. The trailers successfully teased a unique premise that could have easily fallen on its face for a variety of reasons, most of which would have been if the plot came across as too goofy. Luckily, a talented group of writers were able to take full advantage of the talented cast at their disposal, crafting what is easily the best comedy of 2018 thus far.
As I alluded to earlier, the cast that was assembled for Game Night is absolutely fantastic. Jason Bateman reunites with the writers he collaborated with on Horrible Bosses, and the results are magical. Similar to Horrible Bosses, Bateman is best when playing the slightly uptight friend who is also usually the smartest, or at least one of the smartest, in the group. He is absolutely perfect in Game Night and I honestly feel like Bateman is beginning to set himself apart as that rare dual-threat actor able to teeter the line of comedy and drama with ease. If you have yet to see his Netflix series Ozark, you need to get on that pronto! Next up is an actress who shares many of Bateman's best qualities and she also happens to be one of my girlfriend and I's favorite actresses, Rachel McAdams (my girlfriend most definitely has a healthy lady crush on her). After absolutely dominating 2004, our senior year of high school, with Mean Girls and The Notebook, the Canadian born McAdams basically became a household name overnight (Teen Choice awards for daysssss). Beautiful, strong, and multi-talented, she can pretty much do it all. In Game Night she has amazing chemistry with Bateman and the rest of the cast, and her bar scene in the beginning is easily the best scene in the film (trust me on this). She is such a natural when she is on screen, it really is amazing.
Actor Jesse Plemons is absolutely ridiculous in this film, and I can't wait for the Blu-ray to release just so I can see the outtakes and the number of cuts his scenes required. He has blown up as of late, and I feel like his role in season 2 of the series Fargo was a great opportunity to showcase his abilities as a legitimate actor. Who could have guessed that the nerdy kid from Friday Night Lights would end up with a career like this, I know I didn't see it coming. I could go on and on about the cast but I do need to draw the line somewhere, but before I do I will deliver an honorable mention to another Friday Night Lights star, Kyle Chandler aka Coach Taylor, New Girl star Lamorne Morris aka Winston "Winnie the Bish" Bishop, Billy Magnusson, and lastly successful comedy writer/actress Sharon Horgan. All of the actors I just mentioned were amazing in Game Night, and one of the biggest strengths of the film is the fact that each and every character is given an opportunity to make an impression on the audience, and they all take advantage- just a fantastic cast!
Game Night is an absolute blast to watch and will have you laughing during the entire movie, and personally I hope this is the beginning of the next comedy dream team of Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams. Even better, perhaps directors John Frances Daley and Jonathan Goldstein will keep the entire cast together for future projects. In a time where we are inundated with remakes and comic book movies, it’s nice to break that up with something a bit different. I will be picking Game Night up on Blu-ray when it comes out for the replay ability alone, and I hope to see it at least one more time while in theaters. Do yourself a favor and grab a group of friends to check out this comedic gem sooner than later. Highly recommended.