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Game Night Review

Game Night Review
"Game Night" Follows the Rules

"Game Night" is a prime example of a movie that doesn't have much of an idea what to do with its premise. In rapid-fire exposition, we meet Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams), who met each other at a bar one night during a competitive game of trivia. They locked eyes over a question about Teletubbies and from there knew it was meant to be.

Fast-forward a few years and they are married and living in storybook suburbia, hosting their regular game nights. Charades isn't just a way to gather some friends and socialize for Max and Annie; it's serious business. They just try their best to hide their friends coming over from their creepy neighbor (Jesse Plemmons, stealing the show with a very weird performance), who longs to be invited back to their circle of friends. 

The meat of "Game Night" comes down to a visit from Max's brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler), who comes into town, throwing Max's issues with inferiority into a tailspin. The movie tries to pin Max and Annie's issues conceiving a baby on Max feeling inferior to his brother, which feels like a strange and superfluous subplot to add.

Brooks wants to host a game night with all of Max and Annie's friends in the home he is renting nearby. His game of choice is a kidnapping mystery, where the friends have to find out where Brooks was taken by following a series of riddles and clues. As you would expect, things go awry because without a thwarted game night, there would be no "Game Night."

The movie offers its share of chuckles throughout and coasts by on the likability and charm of Bateman and McAdams. The supporting cast, including Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury, get their laughs, but their stories and interactions separate from the main plot are all padding.

Directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (who teamed up on the terrible "Vacation" remake) offer a slick and glossy production that is a few notches above what you would expect from your typical comedy. The script by Mark Perez only offers intermittent moments of inspired dark comedy and merely plods along the rest of the time. There are crumbs of a better idea within Perez's script but he doesn't lead the characters to them.

"Game Night" earns points for trying to rise above comedy conventions and offer a darker twist, but it ultimately ends up feeling far too safe and routine. As the movie reaches its final act it piles on a few twists, only proving it ran out of steam long before.


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