Despite the positive word of mouth ‘Game Night’ has received in recent reports, I found it to be many things; lacking in laugh-out-loud humor, twisted, and atmospherically dark. One half of it fails to muster up a hearty, enjoyable laugh, while the other plays with your expectations; making it a well-done mystery-thriller, but a failed comedy. I expected better from its original premise. Come to think of it, ‘Game Night’ is more or less, a messed-up, unpleasant re-adaptation of the ‘Clue’ board game. While it is not a murder mystery per se, ‘Game Night’ does involve a group of people finding clues in order to win a game. These people are idiotic at best, which is what is supposed to make the comedy work, yet they come off as annoying, while the jokes seem tired.
Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams lead the cast as husband-and-wife, Max and Annie, a competitive duo who met at trivia night after answering the most obvious of trivia questions, and have been a part of every game night together ever since. Their friends usually join them on a weekly basis; taking part in charades mostly. One night, Max’s more successful brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler) comes into town for a visit. He suggests to his baby brother and friends a game night that will knock their socks off; inviting them to his house for a mystery-related game involving a seemingly real kidnapping and clues.
What starts off as a night of fun and intrigue eventually turns into the real deal, when Brooks is actually kidnapped by two masked men, leaving the others to assume it’s only a part of the game (This is where ‘Game Night’ sounds interesting). What follows is a race against time as each group of two finds their own way of “winning”. Max and Annie try to locate where Brooks is, Ryan (Billy Magnussen), and his Irish co-worker, Sarah (Sharon Horgan) try to find the headquarters of said game, while married couple, Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury) attempt to find the clues the right way, while bickering about an affair with a mysterious celebrity.
While ‘Game Night’ could have been an annoying, albeit uncomfortable, sit-through, its engine eventually runs when the twists arrive and a thrilling third act begins.