Critics' Pick

Game Night (R)

Comedy 100 min. February 23, 2018
By April Wolfe
Mark Perez has written one of the tightest comedy scripts to make it to be the big screen in ages. Game Night, directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, wastes not a single second of dialogue, gives killer lines to every member of its all-star ensemble, delivers genuinely tense action sequences, and even goes for broke with style. Do we finally have an American counterpart to Britain's Edgar Wright-Simon Pegg team?

Imagine the endless twists and turns and double-crossing of David Fincher's rich-man-gets-kidnapped-for-fun-but-maybe-not? film The Game, told from the point of view of the kidnap victim's best buds -- and also, it's, like, it's hilarious. Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams play perfect couple Max and Annie, and I mean "perfect" in the sense that Perez's dialogue for them rings true of a real, thriving relationship, with quirky inside jokes and, in this case, a shared competitive desire to win every single game they play. The chemistry between Bateman and McAdams explodes in every scene and only grows stronger when, over the course of one very long and dangerous night, their characters get caught up in conspiracy.

Brooks (Kyle Chandler), Max's equally competitive venture capitalist brother, wants to shake up the usual evening of Pictionary and charades with some expensive kidnap role play, a game where one person will be abducted by paid actors, and the rest will have to compete to follow clues and rescue the abductee. The problem is a few bad guys clad in black and wielding guns break into the house and go after Brooks first. Cue a brawl that spans the entire house. The script is airtight and the direction impeccable, but it's the performances that win the grand prize.
John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamome Morris Mark Perez Warner Bros. Pictures


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