Game Night Review: We may already have the comedy of the year

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures via WB Media Pass, Game Night
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures via WB Media Pass, Game Night /

It was clear in the previews that Game Night would be hilarious, but it exceeds expectations. Not just a comedy, Game Night manages to give you a great story, fun characters, and is also beautifully shot.

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The bar has been set for this year’s comedy field with Game Night. From the opening moments you will be laughing out loud. Even the dramatic moments are humorous but the film somehow remains grounded. In doing this review my goal is to remain as spoiler free as possible, but first, a quick summary.

The premise is simple enough. You have a group of friends that regularly come together for a game night. One of these such nights, they decide to kick it up a notch and do a murder mystery. From there, things don’t go exactly as planned and hilarity ensues. However, the film was much more than that. On one hand it is a romantic comedy. Each couple has some type of issue that comes up over the course of the movie that has to be addressed or overcome. On another hand it’s an action movie complete with car chases, hostage situations, fights, and shootouts. The two blend together masterfully because as Kyle Chandler’s character says in the trailer: “you won’t know what’s real, and what’s fake.”

Game Night
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures via WB Media Pass, Game Night /

Non-stop laughs

As mentioned above, Game Night is laugh out loud funny from start to finish. The movie starts by giving you a little bit of background. They show you how Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) met and how their competitiveness shaped their relationship over the years. Early on in the movie we learn that they are trying to have a baby but that same competitiveness is slowing down Max’s swimmers. Even a serious discussion about a couple who is having trouble conceiving is full of hilarious moments and this really set the tone for the film.

First of all, every character is funny. Movies of this nature usually try to have a straight man on board to call out the craziness but that was not the case here. Everyone is invested in the fun because that’s the point of a game night, right? Because everyone is invested, every interaction is humorous. Whether they are joking about something tied to the competition or making jokes at each other’s expense.

Besides the humor in the dialogue, there is plenty of physical comedy as well. The group manages to end up in bad situations but rarely do the results of these situations feel over-the-top. There were only a few “why didn’t x character act this way” moments and each one makes sense by the end.

Everyone shines

One problem with a lot of ensemble casts is that it’s hard to give everyone a chance to stand out. While Bateman and McAdams are clearly the stars of the film, everyone else has their own time to shine. During the game, the group splits off in their respective couples to try to solve the mystery. Each couple has a different dynamic that drives their interactions throughout the night.

The friends

Ryan (Billy Magnussen) is the single friend who usually brings a hot young date that is useless as a teammate. On the big night, however, he switches it up and brings someone he thinks is a ringer. The catch is that he’s not actually attracted to Sarah (Sharon Horgan) though she accepted the invite under the impression that he was. This becomes complicated for both parties as the are we/are we not plays out over the course of the night.

Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury) are the couple that has been together since they were 14 and thus know everything about each other (or so they thought.) Before our big game, a drinking game is played which reveals that Michelle has a secret. For these two, getting to the bottom of that secret becomes the running joke that pays off amazingly late in the film.

Then you have Kyle Chandler’s character, Brooks, who plays Max’s brother and his greatest rival. Brooks is the big brother that enjoys beating his little brother at everything from “The Game of Life, to the game of life.” He does not have a love interest but the dynamic between he and his brother takes the place of that. Of course, Rachel McAdams’ Annie attempts to defend her husband against Brooks with mixed (comedic) results.

Game Night
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures via WB Media Pass, Game Night /

Jesse Plemons

I felt like Jesse deserved an entire sub-section dedicated to his character because he completely stole the show. Plemons plays the neighbor, Gary, who is separated from his wife. As it turns out, his wife was the one everybody loved so he is no longer getting the invitations to game night. He’s a cop, first of all, and he’s about as dry and stiff as a human can be. At one point, one of the other characters refers to him as “Robocop” to give you a better understanding.

The statement that everyone is funny, followed by the statement that Jesse Plemons stole the show seem contradictory but they are not. Everyone was funny, but Jesse Plemons character will make you choke on your popcorn, your drink, and whatever candy you grabbed because the concessions guy said the combo was just a dollar more.

Pro Tip: Stay for the first part of the credits for bonus Gary.

Next: Annihilation Review


Game Night currently has an 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an average score of 4.1 out of 5. This is exactly where I would rate the movie as a fan of anything that can make me laugh. It’s a fun ride that took me back to the first time I saw The Hangover. This may be the first comedy since then that caught me off guard to this degree. Ironically, or perhaps intentionally, this is the exact movie you want to watch/discuss with a group of close friends.

On an additional note, the duo of John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein needed this win. They have had a ton of success as writers, but are coming off of the disaster that was 2015’s Vacation as directors. The two will be directing D.C.’s Flashpoint movie, and the D.C. Universe could use a hit to help change the narrative.

In the meantime you can (and should) catch Game Night  at your local theater.