Remember those nights when you and your friends gathered in a circle to play party games? From Pictionary to Charades to Trivial Pursuit, these games never get old.
But what if these games, especially those murder mysteries, became real? What if there’s actually a person who dies each night and you are forced to uncover the murderer? Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams’ most recent movie, “Game Night,” asks those same questions.
The story of “Game Night” unfolds as six party game aficionados embark on a simulated reality game; however, it’s left for them to figure out whether the game is staged or a real matter of life or death. Through mixing thriller with comics, this film is geared to families, light in tone, and perfect to watch on weekends. Despite the many plot twists and fast–paced cinematography, the ending felt very disappointing.
The entire movie is built through layers of suspense and twisted endings. But, the more twisted it becomes, the less intrigued you are about the ending.
As an audience, your sixth sense tells you that the ending will be different from what you expect, but as the plot gets more convoluted, you don’t care about the result any more. Going through these gimmicky, mouse–trap games is similar to the feeling of taking too many roller coaster rides in theme parks—you're initially excited, but the adrenaline rush quickly wanes.
It’s probably not appropriate to describe “Game Night” as a thriller. Violence and bloody scenes happen in the movie, but it also touches on some aspects of family and relationships. Admittedly, it is a well–intended action flick, but the overall plot seems somehow strange.
In the beginning, the two protagonists, Max and Annie are trying to have a baby. Their doctor suggests that their difficulties may be due in part to Max's long–term stress. Annie attributes the stress to Max’s rivalry with his “perfect” big brother, Brooks. After an adventurous night, the two brothers overcome their animosity and Annie is finally pregnant. I can understand the logic, but it skews a little heavy–handed.
Despite the lackluster plot, the actors’ performance is hilarious. Rachel McAdams has her hair cut, breaks the image she had in “About Time,” and forms a nice match with Jason Bateman. The directors, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, both started as actors and previously collaborated on the 2015 movie “Vacation.” They constructed a comedy with bold scenes; yet the overall arc and premise leave much to be desired.
A Variety commentator said it in fewer words than I did:
"Our society is in full devolution."
"Wake up people, don’t support mediocrity.”
Unfortunately, this commentator may be more creative than the directors of “Game Night.”