Game Night (2018)

If you’ve been following this site for a while, you’ll know that my biggest problem with Hollywood comedies is laziness. Funniness is subjective, but too many studio comedies betray their lack of respect for their audience with films clumsily cut together from chunks of improvisation.

Game Night is different. Oh, the hit-to-miss ratio of its jokes is about the same level as its competitors, but it’s the rare studio comedy that’s an honest-to-goodness film rather than a bunch of sitcom riffs cut together into a formulaic storyline.

The story here is hardly revolutionary – competitive couple Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) get sucked into a TheGame-esque morass of guns and gangsters after Max’s brother’s (Kyle Chandler’s) faux-kidnapping turns out to be real – but directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein go out of their way to make the film succeed as a pseudo-action film when the jokes aren’t landing.

Rather than merely cobbling together ad-libs, Daley and Goldstein opt for creative visual choices. Whether staging genuinely-gripping car chases or using that Social-Network-rowing-scene trick to make establishing shots look like board game sets, they keep your interest throughout. Better yet – it’s quite funny! Despite appearances, this is worth your time.

3 stars

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