Game Night

In Brief: Game Night has game. This one starts out with and ends with laughs. Big ones.

Game Night has Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as game obsessed Max and Annie. Charades, trivia, board games, they love them all. Max and Annie often entertain their closest friends and all enjoy a game night. The cop next door is Gary. He’s a very weird dude and wants to be included. Gary is so weird that he’s never invited.

Not invited is a bit soft. Gary —who is important to the plot — is actually avoided.

Annie is competitive but Max is fanatical. He hates losing and never hates it more than losing to his brother, Kyle. Everything Kyle touches turns to gold. He has it all, Hollywood looks, money, fast cars and a jet-setting lifestyle. Kyle disses game night, says he can do better and promises a game night to end all game nights.

Kyle sets one up and tells them to believe none of what they see. It’s all a game. Then some very violent men break down the door, beat Kyle up and drag him out the door.

Whoa. Realism. What a great premise for a game.

Max, Annie and their friends calmly start looking for clues as to what actually happened to Kyle. Truth, fiction, illusion and reality begin to bend and blend. Soon it’s hard to decide what’s real and what isn’t.

And then there’s Gary.

Game Night is a hoot from start to finish and has more twists than a highway traversing a Rocky Mountain pass. The film puts Bateman at the center of the humor and his co-stars bounce off and around him.

It is safe to say Bateman has never been better than in Game Night. I say that with a smile because it is not all that profound since Bateman is the same character in every movie. Maybe it’s why we love him. He’s made a career of being the guy on the edge of an explosion. Bateman is controlled, uptight and neither raises nor lowers his voice or changes his facial expressions.

Best of all he delivers killer lines with the straightest of faces.

We can’t leave Game Night without a cast comment. You can tell Bateman’s co-stars McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Kylie Bunbury and Lamorne Morris are having a blast. Who wouldn’t have fun tossing out colorful lines from the clever and ever-evolving twists of writer Mark Perez’s outrageous script?

And then there’s character actor Jesse Plemons (Hostiles) who does Gary. He has more fun than anyone, steals every scene he’s in and eventually ends up out deadpanning Bateman.

That’s not easy.

The guy has game. His cast mates have game. Best of all, Game Night has game.

Directors: John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein

Stars: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Kylie Bunbury, Lamorne Morris, Danny Huston, Michael C. Hall

Rated R for mature themes, some violence and language. So far this is the year’s funniest film. Give it a 4 1/2 on the Average Joe Movie 0 to 5 scale.

Click here for showtimes and theaters.

5 to 4 1/2: Must see on the big screen.
4 to 3 1/2: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 to 2 1/2: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 to 1: Don’t bother.
0:Speaks for itself.

Gary Wolcott has been a movie consultant for KXL since 2014. A lifelong fan of film, he’s been a film critic in radio, television and newspaper for 25-years. Wolcott catches a couple of hundred movies a year and he sees a great many of them so you don’t have to.

Got a movie suggestion or comment? Click here to email him.

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