Take a risk with 'Game Night,' a amusing twister of a comedy

CultureMovie review Game Night			Jason Bateman and Rachel Mc Adams star in a scene from the movie

That's what the 2010 feature Date Night suggested, sending Tina Fey and Steve Carell into the night for some hijinks and mild gunplay.

I will tell you this, though, "Game Night" gets it right. At its center is a couple that loves to play games.

Which may sound like a retread, and in many ways it is.

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. The film more than makes up all those years post-Wedding Crashers in which McAdams didn't do many comedies.

"Most of my childhood, I was tortured by them", Chandler said.

The cast is invested too. John Davis (Joy), John Fox (The Blacklist), Jason Bateman and Jim Garavente (Bad Words) are producing, with Marc S. Fischer serving as executive producer. Which is a problem, because he and his wife, Annie, are trying to have a baby. This is one of the funniest films of the year or any year in the past decade. There's strong support from Pitch's Kylie Bunbury and New Girl's Lamorne Morris but a rather misjudged turn from Jesse Plemons as a creepy law enforcement neighbor.

The premise behind the film is that this seemingly normal couple gets caught up in a fake-kidnapping charade gone wrong, one where the lines between reality and fiction, Life and death, get blurred in various telegraphed twists and turns.


These movies also confounded genre expectations - Horrible Bosses showed that filmgoers had a healthy appetite for some very dark humour, while Spider-Man confirmed the current enthusiasm for amusing superhero tales.

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. Particularly if you just want something to gawk and guffaw at, without having to deposit anything of worth into your memory banks.

"Game Night" devises running gags throughout the movie and then comes up with ways to keep topping them so they don't get old.

Speaking of musicals: Into the Woods vet Magnussen once again almost steals the whole show, infusing another vain himbo with just enough humanity to make him lovable instead of loathsome. It's also great to see Sharon Horgan cast as the latest, sort-of love interest for their long-term air-brained friend Ryan, played by Billy Magnussen. I only wish that Horgan-such a great wit on her TV shows-had more to do. When Max's brother Brooks (played by the ever-charming Kyle Chandler, of "Friday Night Lights" fame) drops in from out of town and offers to host game night, the squad of thirty-somethings that comprise Max's weekly game night group is quick to welcome him onto the fold. McAdams, meantime, does all she can to activate the screwball fizz amid the improbabilities.

BATEMAN: "She's not going to see this".

One of the movie's funniest early scenes finds Gary catching Max and Annie just back from the grocery store and carrying bags clearly full of party snacks. I'll confess... I have a soft spot for movies where marriage is portrayed as both work and fun, with the entire idea being that we are lucky when we find someone we can move through life with, someone who gets who we are. But she commits-if only that commitment was justly rewarded. Infrequently profane and violent, it's still far beyond PG-13 territory, but also far too tame for what we've come to expect from the usual R material. Reliably amusing Bateman and adorably spunky McAdams get the funniest scenes, including one in which Max must hurriedly clean bloodstains off a fluffy white dog's fur. Despite the best efforts of Max and Annie to avoid him, Gary just pops up everywhere (like Droopy the dog in those classic Tex Avery MGM cartoons), making time stand still with his dead-eyed stare and unrelenting inquiries ("Isn't that a lot of Tostitos Scoops for a quiet night in?"), all while cradling his fuzzy white dog.

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