This film won me over in the first five minutes, and from there it was terrific company. Its introduction sets up its two main characters perfectly – a couple obsessed with games, and winning. Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman star as said couple, and every week they invite their friends round for a ‘game night’, however they have to hide it from their creepy policeman neighbour Gary (Jesse Plemons). Max (Bateman) has a mysteriously successful brother (Kyle Chandler), and when he’s in town he gets the gang round for a much more intense series of games.
To call this a breath of fresh air for mainstream comedies would probably be an exaggeration, but the film really understood what’s funny. It’s a good premise, with lots of avenues to go down that are instantly connectable. The characters are likeable, played well and never take themselves too seriously. It’s a pretty bonkers plot at times, but it always felt grounded. The charm of the film comes from the fact that the characters were more convincing as real people than in your bog standard drama. They all had great chemistry together, especially McAdams and Bateman. And there are moments that are really funny! It’s not a laugh a second kind of film, but there are enough odd hilarious bits to keep it going. A highlight would be a scene involving an attempt to extract a bullet from an arm, because it’s as gruesome as it is humorous.
More to like about this film is that it has style, and rarely is a comedy shot with such flair. The use of the camera, editing and colour scheme all added to my enjoyment of the film. Every other scene had an intuitive camera movement, or a catchy transition. The opening is beautifully edited together, and then it carries the same on for the rest of the film. It surprised me how well the action is choreographed and shot, being more cohesive and exciting then The Commuter (an actual action movie). There’s a fight scene near the beginning in a kitchen which is as thrilling as a John Wick bout. And then throughout the film the small set pieces and car chases are crafted with enough inventiveness to make them engaging.
Not every joke lands, and there’s several moments of cringe where the humour is a bit misjudged. There are a few liberties taken with the narrative and an attempt to bring in a moral to the story that doesn’t really work. Yet apart from that it is wonderfully done for a pop movie, and I couldn’t recommend it enough. It’s made with care and artistic value, whilst also being absorbing and amusing.
Is it worth the price of a cinema ticket?