No one asked for a David Fincher parody and we really, really should have.
Game Night is perhaps most brazen for skewering a film, The Game, that has not superseded pop culture so greatly as many of The Director’s further outings. Fight Club among them, that classic also gets an affectionate dressing-down in this surprising and oh so welcome comedy.
Uber-competitive alpha-couple Annie and Max (Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman) host a weekly game night with their scrabble-ready friends, only for it to be crashed by Max’s yet more accomplished, younger brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler), who proceeds to triumph at the likes of Articulate and much else. Proposing a more amped-up series of trials and a kidnapping mystery at his newly-acquired mansion, one companion is abruptly taken in the first of many, many instances that may or may not be very real.
Adopting the same plot devices and agitative tunes as it’s more dramatic precursors, the self-seriousness and straight-faced fealty to abjectly incredulous scenarios that so often pervades this film’s forbears is mercifully absent here.The film’s comedic bent emerges as a more natural incidence of it’s absurdist underpinnings than the darker stylings evidenced in the thrill-per-minute tension-emitters that would typically herald a like premise.
The near compulsory protestations to reason from audiences and characters alike too plays much better against a comedic backdrop than that of an action-thriller. The reactions of various characters herein are at times more realistic and engaging than those of their dramatic counterparts in films long a part of the public consciousness; the mirth and disbelief of our players when events are first visited on the cohort making for one of the film’s best scenes.
Game Night nails its tone at this critical juncture when one of the crew is violently abducted while their mates comment on each intruder’s dedication to the bit. A later one-liner acknowledging Fincher’s influence on the film and too the work of another renowned Director would be the stand-out funniest addition but for a gruesome helping of slapstick from the two leads. Carefully manoeuvring a scene that would be more confronting had Bateman and McAdams not evinced some spectacular comic chops, the sequence is just as well drawn as the later, ensemble tracking shot reliant upon each and every member of the talented main cast.
Billy Magnussen is the stand-out of the supporting bunch as a rather nonplussed contributor to shenanigans, though he’s no match for the effortlessly unsettling Jesse Plemons as Max and Annie’s neighbour and only one of the numerous plot points that invites speculation and focused viewing. What could reliably have emerged as a forgettable Thursday night serving of sight gags will instead delightfully confound audiences accustomed to the enjoyable though as distinct from this film unremarkable studio comedies that recur in cinemas every several weeks, as well as those who cherish each and every instance of a Fincher feature or its ilk hitting our screens.
An ideal date night or group outing to the multiplex for casual and dedicated cinemagoers alike, Game Night is that rare treat that will joyfully cross some strongly demarcated lines of what is considered a good night at the movies.
Game Night is in cinemas now