Sunday, December 9, 2018

REVIEW: Game Night (live action movie)

Game Night is a black comedy/action movie. It's another one I had considered seeing in my local movie theater and ended up picking up from a bargain bin instead.


Max and Annie are two ultra-competitive game enthusiasts who met during a trivia night. Max's marriage proposal was worked into one of their game nights, and, from what I can tell, literally the only thing they do for fun is have game nights. Game night is their life.

Now they'd like to have children, but there's one problem: Max's sperm aren't very active, and the couple's fertility doctor thinks it might be due to Max feeling emasculated by his brother, who is handsomer, more successful, and always wins. When Max's brother holds his own game night, Max and Annie decide that if they are to succeed in their quest to have children, they must win. The game seems like a fun one: a mystery role-playing game in which one of the players, Max's brother, is kidnapped and must be rescued by the others. What Max, Annie, and the others don't realize is that things have gone wrong, the game isn't what it seems, and the danger is real.

I mostly had fun with this movie, but you have to turn off your brain a little. Okay, a lot. And I occasionally had trouble doing that. The thing that bothered me the most was the gunshot wound. I'm sorry, but most of what that particular character managed to do throughout the movie would have been difficult, if not impossible, with a gunshot wound and no painkillers. And yes, I know it's a comedy. There are some things I can accept and not worry or think too much about and some things I can't, and the gunshot wound fell into the latter category, particularly since it was repeatedly involved in the movie's comedy.

There were a couple moments early on in the movie that bugged me enough to make me wonder whether I'd manage to make it through the whole thing. First, there was the awkward "white people = the elite" joke. Gary was excluded from game night for being creepy, and yet for some reason Ryan was invited back even though he brought a racist date and didn't take her home the instant she crossed that line in front of his friends (a group that included a black couple, Kevin and Michelle). Second, there was the entire reasoning behind Max and Annie's fertility issues. Max couldn't get Annie pregnant because he was feeling emasculated by his brother? Oh come on.

Still, the movie's overall energy was great. Viewers could spot the moment everything went wrong, while the characters themselves sat back and enjoyed what they thought was an extremely realistic fake fight. Almost immediately after that, everyone split up into their respective groups. While Michelle and Kevin bickered and were the only ones playing the game the way it had originally been set up, everyone else was cheating (or being creative, depending on your point of view). Sarah, Ryan's too-smart-for-him non-date, figured they'd go to the source, the company that set the game up. Max and Annie, meanwhile, decided to track Max's brother's phone and get him back without having to waste time solving clues. The group figured out a little of what was going on way sooner than I expected, but there were still a few surprises along the way.

Like I said, some of the humor didn't work for me. There were a lot of moments that did, though. The entire bit in creepy Gary's home was pretty good, even as Max's actions made me cringe (OMG, what moron thinks adding water would make that situation better?). And thumbs up to whoever decided to turn the ending credits into a tour of the planning process behind some of game night.

  • Gag reel
  • "An Unforgettable Evening: Making Game Night" - This was much shorter than I expected and not really a very good "making of" video.

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