The surprisingly sinister Game Night might be this month’s funniest film
Although it is a mouthful, the wacky-popcorn-comedy-turned-surprisingly-intense-action movie can pretty much be considered a viable cinematic sub-genre these days. Date Night, Pineapple Express, 21 Jump Street, are just a few that jump to mind, and Game Night deservedly takes its place within the growing middle area of that expanding Venn diagram.
Jason Bateman and (Academy Award nominee) Rachel McAdams star as Max and Annie, a couple whose weekly suburban game night gets kicked up a notch when Max’s charismatic brother, Brooks, arranges a murder mystery party, complete with fake thugs and faux federal agents. But when Brooks gets kidnapped, it all seems like part of the game. Well, maybe.
Without revealing too much (FYI, most of it is in the trailer below): Bateman gets shot in the arm, a dog gets covered in blood, and a man gets vapourised by a jet turbine… it’s fair to say that it’s quite some distance from your average couples’ night in.
Simply put, the concept of Game Night is not original. However, the pacing of the film and number of surprisingly tense moments are. For what seems like, to all intents and purposes, a generic chuckle-worthy popcorn flick, the film has its fair share of uneasy, creepy and genuine WTF moments, that will keep the audience unexpectedly on edge (and at times not even sure what’s going on).
The idea of a ‘game night’ has become rather ubiquitous these days, with couples who have started swapping out the wild nights and 3am finishes of their 20s for competitive rounds of Cards Against Humanity and insatiable need to devour baked Camembert before getting home for the babysitter.
“Putting a bunch of people who are not capable with dealing with adversity into a situation beyond what they could handle, that was interesting to me,” Bateman tells Esquire Middle East. “Plus, turning a rather boring domestic, harmless couples’ night, into something rather dangerous and unsettling is fertile ground for comedy.”
Fertile ground indeed. Speaking of sub-genres, the mere sight of Bateman’s name on the bill alludes to the type of dry comedy that audiences have come to expect, but the rather sinister undertones weaved in by co-directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein (Horrible Bosses; Vacation), and a notably creepy performance from Jesse Plemons, gives the film an unexpectedly refreshing take on an increasingly tried-and-tested formula.
Game Night is out now