Plot: What’s it about?
Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.
I think I got that right. Nevertheless…
With the copious amounts of movies that I watch in a given week, month and year, it takes something pretty special to stand out. So many I usually forget after the ending credits roll (or long enough to write a review), but there are a select few that catch my eye and are worth me watching again. Game Night might not be the greatest film ever made, but it had me laughing and the concept was top notch. Directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley really make everything work and it’s a great thing because I also consider the remake of Vacation one of my recent favorites (not all remakes are bad). Throw in a fairly decent cast, most known for their comedic work, and you’ve got something special.
The plot can be looked at two ways, and I’ll do my best not to throw in any spoilers because, well, that’s where the fun is. Bateman plays essentially the same character we see him play in every movie, the straight-laced, mild mannered husband named Max. He and wife Annie (Rachel McAdams) are deliberating starting a family and their only respite from their lives is the weekly game night with their friends. Max’s older, more successful and more charismatic brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler) shows up and manages to hijack the game night in lieu of his own. His plan is that he’s arranges for everyone (the game night crowd) to play in a real-life murder mystery game that requires them to solve a kidnapping. But before the game can truly get started, real kidnappers break in and whisk Brooks away. Thinking that this is all part of the “game”, the crew start to try and solve the mystery never knowing that Brooks’ life is truly in danger. Shenanigans ensue.
While describing the plot of the movie I did leave out the best part – the cast. In addition to McAdams and Bateman, we get a smattering of somewhat recognizable faces, but most memorable of them all (and the actor who steals the show) is the next door neighbor: Gary (Jessie Plemons). Fans might remember him as Todd in Breaking Bad or from a season of Fargo. I think he might just be the second coming of Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Nevertheless, he keeps the film interesting. Game Night manages to entertain, even considering that the film starts to tangent off. And, if you look close enough, you’ll find several references to some of your favorite board games.
Video: How’s it look?
The film sparkles on Blu-ray as we see into the sterile, suburban neighborhoods look like a Better Homes and Gardens magazine. The 2.40:1 AVC HD image is nearly perfect, with a colorful palette, razor sharp detail and strong contrast. The majority of the movie takes place at night and as such the image isn’t ever compromised by black crush or contrast. Flesh tones appear warm and natural which all adds up to a great-looking if “predictable” transfer. Nothing really wrong with this one. It’s a keeper.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Comedies, dark or not, aren’t usually known for their sound. But this isn’t quite the case with Game Night. I was impressed at how many scenes had a very strong overtone of “cut scene” music. Add to that there’s a car chase, some bullets are fired and yes there may or may not be a scene that looks eerily like Fight Club. Vocals are strong and centered, surrounds add a plethora of ambiance to the track which all adds up to a surprisingly good-sounding film.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- An Unforgettable Evening: Making Game Night – Your standard “Making of..” EPK is the only real supplement of note. We get, as expected, some interviews with the cast and crew as well as some behind-the-scenes footage.
- Gag Reel – Admittedlly, with the cast involved, I have to say that it would be hard to keep a straight face. This is actually a welcome addition to the disc.
The Bottom Line
Game Night isn’t perfect, but it had me laughing out loud several times. The cast is top notch and works well together, though I suppose my only real complaint would be that they just didn’t quite know how to end it (then again, that was part of the fun). Warner’s Blu-ray looks good and sounds better, but the extras are limited to an EPK and a gag reel. This one is probably for the true fans.