A real-life version of Cluedo.
I’m somewhat surprised to say it but Game Night was better than expected. After hearing about the concept for the film, I was quickly dismissive of its ridiculous premise as I thought it was probably going to be just another excuse to make a cheesy film from a somewhat unoriginal concept. Much like my feelings towards Blumhouse Productions who produce dumb horror films like Truth or Dare and Happy Death Day, which spin a similar scenario but to horrendously idiotic results. Thankfully Game Night, which works more as a comedy, uses the original concept to generate some laughs. This is fitting as yes, it does still seem like a ridiculous concept but because of the situation, I was also inclined to believe that every reaction by the characters was fairly genuine and it, therefore, made me laugh.
To give a very brief synopsis of the film and essentially what I imagined would have been the elevator pitch for this. It’s about a murder mystery game night that involves a real kidnaping unbeknownst to the players who think it’s all meant to be staged. It’s probably the closest thing we’re going to get to see a film adaption of the board game Cluedo or Murder Mystery Nights? and it somehow isn’t that terrible of a comedy. By no means was I laughing hysterically all the way throughout but nevertheless, the concept warmed on me as I continued to watch, and I genuinely was charmed by the characters in the story.
Which is what I think works best, especially with Rachel McAdams’ performance. Yes, she’s alongside Jason Bateman who pretty much just plays Jason Bateman in all his other films, but with Rachel McAdams’ character, I could see how great she was performing to bring that person to life, given it could have gone so wrong otherwise as it is a somewhat difficult part to do well. It’s tough to pull off a character like that without sounding overly ignorant or dumb, so credit must go to her for giving it the right amount of balance to still be believable in everything that was happening. Because she was perfect in adding the right amount of naïvety to every situation whilst her character still believed that what was happening was meant to be all part of the game. But in a way that was very charismatic and anytime she was on screen, I really enjoyed her scenes that ultimately added to the whole films charming aspect.
I was also pleasantly surprised with some of the directing in the shots used. There were a couple of nice moments of zooming in on the neighborhood that they reside in, that were made to resemble pieces of a gameboard which I thought was quite clever. It was subtle enough that had unless someone pointed it out to me, I wouldn’t have seen it and therefore I appreciate the effort that was put in, given the whole theme of the movie has to do with games.
The same effort went into a couple of continuous shot sequences, one of which spanned an entire chase scene throughout a two-story house from character to character which was just great. I don’t know how they pulled something like that off and I feel like it would have been a technical nightmare but damn was it ever impressive. Even the small choices of adding a camera to the inside of a car door as it slams gives a new perspective that I thought were welcomed breaths of fresh air and were aspects I really enjoyed. It showed to me that the direction was decent and competent and I’m hoping the pair of directors, John Francis Daley, and Jonathan Goldstein, continue to expand their technical shot selection and steer away from standard close-ups of people talking. They were also responsible for directing the film Horrible Bosses and Vacation, so I’m glad that they’ve improved immensely from those not so great technical pieces.
Although I’ve mentioned a lot of positives about this film, I’m refraining from giving it a score any higher than 6 for a few reasons. Towards the end, there are a few details about the plot that don’t necessarily add up in a logical way. Without going into spoilers, it seemed a bit convoluted and a lot of unknown variables had to have fallen perfectly in place otherwise it just wouldn’t have worked. Perhaps this adds to the theme of games being a combination of skill and luck, but I didn’t really get how any of it could have worked as it was supposedly meant to be “brilliantly” planned. However, it only happened because of several sheer coincidences lined up by fate and so the whole believability factor for me was very much broken.
I also wasn’t laughing hysterically throughout and there are a few characters who were written purposefully ignorant for the sake of generating humor at their expense. But instead I just kept rolling my eyes every time they spoke, and I didn’t find any of it that funny compared to the scenes with Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman.
Throwing those aspects aside, the positives of this film still outweigh the negatives. I thought the introduction at the beginning was a great way of introducing me to the life of this couple who absolutely love playing games, which add to the whole grounding that this film surprisingly works on. It takes a somewhat goofy concept and makes it not only fairly funny but also, for the most part, believable. I don’t think I’d see it again anytime soon as most of the mystery aspects that make this film also a great watch are now ruined. But I have no qualms about recommending this to people who are after a decent enough comedy as it does have some very interesting quirks about it. Be on the lookout for this movie when it comes out on DVD and check it out when you can. See it.