Rachel McAdams gets competitive on Game Night

Game Night beats Annihilation in Thursday previews

Brooks promises the next game night will be at the house he is renting while he is in town.

As the duo responsible for 2017's hugely successful "Spiderman: Homecoming", Daley and co-director Jonathan M. Goldstein are deft with comedic pacing and know how to spin a yarn.

BATEMAN: "I'm not good about that". It's all about landing the punch, though, and as writers, they've posted mixed results.

There's a point about midway "Game Night", however, when it may seem to audiences like everyone's in on what's really going on and the film's set-up has been unraveled.

Max (Jason Bateman,"Arrested Development", "Horrible Bosses") and Annie (Rachel McAdams,"Spotlight", HBO's "True Detective") met during trivia night at a bar and connected over their competitive personalities. I also enjoyed the Wes Anderson-like transitional animations that gave the proceedings a "board game in progress" feel. Max and Annie have to avoid their morose newly-single neighbor, and one-time game night participant, Gary (Jesse Plemons), and meet up with the friends for what they think is a night of fun. They have a gaggle of amusing friends they get together with weekly. He's lived in his brother's shadow his whole life.

"Game Night" is a realistic murder mystery in which the viewer doesn't know what is real or what is part of the game, and it does an unbelievable job of capturing that.

Jason Bateman and Oscar nominee Rachel McAdams lead the cast. She tempers some of his sarcastic edge, while he brings out a sharper side of her, and the combination proves quite winning. But matters swiftly get real, with actual fisticuffs and gunfire thrown in the mix, sending the friends on a wild night adventure that will include a auto chase, fire fights, something dubbed "Eyes Wide Fight Club", and field surgery, among other hijinks. Horgan is not above going through Brooks' wallet and duping a credit card company into giving her crucial information. There's a scene in a biker bar where she gets to cut loose, gun in hand, and it is both adorable and terrifying. You always want to work with collaborative people, because that's the best thing about art. Comedy is like jazz, you want to riff off of each other. They also get inspired laughs out of a couple of slow-percolating sight gags and, graphically, from queasy Max suffering a bullet wound. I've never been able to shake someone's nickname for Jesse Plemons during his run on Breaking Bad, and "Meth Damon" is in full effect here. They've constructed a film in which the tension steadily escalates with at least a nod toward the logic of cause and effect, and characters make stupid but clearly motivated decisions. Lamorne Morris, consistently a stealth weapon on The New Girl, has plenty of opportunity to shine as he struggles with a piece of knowledge dropped on him during a drinking game early in the evening.

BATEMAN: "They love the word 'moist!' That's the greatest word in the world".

Three things kill comedies: trailers, sometimes plot, and people you know who've seen the movie before you. But what holds her back from next-level superstardom doesn't seem like a lack of quality control or any reticence on her part so much as her daring to develop a star persona that involves superheroes only briefly and tangentially.

Not every McAdams vehicle has even been as good as Game Night, much less as good as Spotlight.

It's all fun and games until a real pack of criminals gets mixed into the story. "I'm the nice guy". We made extra sure that this didn't look like a brightly lit studio comedy. Right away, audiences will sense that they're watching something that's, surprisingly, a little ominous. It's also interesting to note that "Game Night's" R rating feels a little unnecessary, nearly exclusively for language that doesn't feel vital to sell the characters or the plot. There's a scene involving Danny Huston and a Faberge egg that is a terrific use of space - playful and amusing. This is one of the funniest films of the year or any year in the past decade. It's like they took the best and most intriguing aspects of David Fincher's The Game and totally forgot that those parts even existed.

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