Co-directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein are back with a bang this February with ‘GAME NIGHT’, a unique black comedy touting Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as a competitive husband-and-wife gamer tag-team who get caught up in a game night that becomes all too real. ‘GAME NIGHT’ is a visually-dazzling film that provides an original storyline as a breath of fresh air for moviegoers and critics alike, even with its inconsistent themes and hit-or-miss punchlines.
Expect ‘GAME NIGHT’ to raise the bar for cinematography in comedy. The stunning opening crawl – a neon-tinted rainfall of game pawns and pieces – establishes its mysterious and flashy tone to the audience, similar to 2016’s ‘The Neon Demon’. ‘GAME NIGHT’ introduces exciting visuals that express the verisimilitude of the story’s comparison to a turn-based game of cat-and-mouse. Many times does the film establish a scene as a game board, using colorful transitions to introduce the game’s current setting and characters in the match.
It’s a game of chess between the filmmakers and the moviegoers. The film repeatedly competes against the audience, curving the perception of the story arc and hurdling over black comedy conventions. When something expected occurs, the film calls its bluff, shuffling the deck to turn the plot on it’s head.
McAdams shines in her role as one-half of the competitive married couple – she has a defined character arc and doesn’t tend to fall for eye-rolling one-liners like some of the other characters tend to. And it seems that audiences have not yet tired of Bateman’s typecast awkwardly-defiant role, which doesn’t surprise me because he nails it yet again in this film. Better than the rest, though, is Jesse Plemons, a stone-cold divorcee cop that steals the show with hilariously serious quips and methodically-placed lines.
Unfortunately, ‘GAME NIGHT’ has trouble pinpointing it’s genre. Of course it is a comedy – but is it also a murder mystery, or a spy-thriller? The atmosphere and tone seem to work decently well, but the themes presented jolt the audience around too frequently. Though some lines might miss the punch, ‘GAME NIGHT’ exceeds typical black comedy expectations. It works to establish itself as a piece of art rather than a high-budget comedy.
Yet ‘GAME NIGHT’ pivots the story back and forth between genres frequently, occasionally throttling the audience into one genre before whiplashing them into something distinctly different. Though it has its faults, ‘Game Night’ still plays a great hand of gorgeous cinematography, funny characters, and an original story fresh enough to pull you in.
‘GAME NIGHT’ is in cinemas now.
Max and Annie’s weekly game night gets kicked up a notch when Max’s brother Brooks arranges a murder mystery party — complete with fake thugs and federal agents. So when Brooks gets kidnapped, it’s all supposed to be part of the game. As the competitors set out to solve the case, they start to learn that neither the game nor Brooks are what they seem to be. The friends soon find themselves in over their heads as each twist leads to another unexpected turn over the course of one chaotic night.