“Game Night” is probably the best comedy of 2018 so far. It features Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as an uber-competitive couple whose lives are turned upside down when a murder mystery party turns a bit too real. It’s equal parts comedy and thriller, with some great lines and memorable characters.
Jason Bateman more or less plays the usual Jason Bateman character you’ve seen in “Arrested Development” and “Horrible Bosses,” except in “Game Night,” he has an encyclopedic memory of pop culture references. Rachel McAdams plays a slightly more whimsical version of Jason Bateman, but she has some of the best lines in the movie. While Bateman and McAdams are funny, they’re also fairly normal, allowing the supporting cast to get crazier. Bateman and McAdams’ friends are likeable, unique, and hilarious in their own right, but the real standout is their cop neighbor, Gary. He steals every scene he’s in and infuses the proceedings with a hilarious blend of creepy and tragic.
The comedy is a modern fusion of references and silly, smart one-liners. The action isn’t particularly memorable; you never really feel like any of the characters are in serious danger, but in a way, that actually adds to the mystery of whether this is a life-or-death brush with the underworld, or just a particularly immersive game night. This confusion over the stakes is played for laughs, especially in the first half of the film, and it comes together shockingly well. You’re never quite sure who’s in on it, and as soon as you think you have it figured out, they distract you with a hilarious situation or fantastic plot twist.
My favorite thing about “Game Night” is how satisfying it is. It’s unpredictable and entertaining, and that’s not something you can say about just any movie, much less a comedy. Every plot thread and character pays off in one way or another, and the script in general is better than 90 percent of what’s out there.
“Game Night” is a feel-good movie, and not one that’s out to challenge any deep-seated beliefs or make startling observations about the world we live in. It’s not a particularly original movie, either, because the plot centers around ordinary people out of their depth in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse. But that’s just about the only criticism you can level against it. It doesn’t do anything different, but what it does do, it does shockingly well. For an unoriginal movie, it manages to be both surprising and entertaining, and for standing out in the sea of mediocre movies demanding your $10, it’s well worth a watch.
You’ll like “Game Night” if:
• You’re a fan of laughing.
• You live and breathe pop culture references.
• You like playing along at home and trying to figure out what will happen next.
Don’t watch “Game Night” if:
• You expect high art or deep philosophy from your movies.
• You have sensitive tastes—you were born after 2006 or before 1950.
• You don’t find Hollywood comedies funny.