Matt at the Movies: Game Night is packed with surprises


Game Night was one of those movies that delivered exactly what I needed at the time: a fun and laugh-filled distraction on an otherwise idle Monday evening.

The comedy crime caper stars Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as Max and Annie, a competitive married couple who love games. A clever opening sequence shows them bonding over obscure answers at a trivia night and playing Dance Dance Revolution at their wedding. A few years later, they're married and struggling with infertility. Once a week, they host game nights at their apartment with their friends, married couple Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury) as well as Ryan (Billy Magnussen), who's single but brings a new woman with him each week. It's unclear how they all know each other, but that's not so important. 

When Max's rich and intimidating older brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler), comes to town, he hijacks the group's game night with a high-stakes interactive "kidnapping" game, in which the winner gets the keys to his new Stingray. Soon, it's clear to Max and Annie that Brooks is a  source of stress in Max's life, and possibly one barrier to them getting pregnant. They decide to stop at nothing to win the game. Little do they know that Brooks is actually mixed up with some dangerous criminals, and the night that they think is all fun and games has much more serious consequences. 

The film is fast-paced and funny, and it never forgets exactly what it is. Bateman and McAdams have some great chemistry onscreen. Their character's struggle with infertility helps lend the movie some grounding beyond just hijinks. Magnussen's character as the dumb friend is the most stereotypical of the bunch, but other than that, everyone gets their fair moment to shine. Sharon Horgan as Ryan's date Sarah is a great addition to the ensemble. Another notable bright spot is Jesse Plemons as Gary, Max and Annie's creepy next-door neighbor. Plemons' performance proves that he has comedy chops and should be given more opportunities to show them off. 

As can be expected in a movie like this, there are a few twists, but this one contained even more than usual and continued to defy expectations. In fact, I would recommend not viewing the trailer and going into this one completely blind. You won't be disappointed. Game Night may not be a game-changer, but it's a hilarious flick and a great way to spend a few hours.