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Game Night (15)
Directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein
THE RUTHLESS will to win when playing Pictionary, charades and the like leads to horrific consequences in this screwball comedy about a group of friends whose weekly game night turns into a high-stakes murder mystery.
Throw in sibling rivalry and a very creepy neighbour desperate to be part of the ludic in-crowd and you have a surprisingly entertaining film.
Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams play Max and Annie, a highly competitive couple who met during a trivia games night and it was love at first answer. Their regular game night is somewhat hijacked by Max's more successful and charismatic brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler), who sets the couple and their friends a challenge. Whoever solves the murder mystery wins the keys to his vintage car.
Very much like David Fincher's 1997 The Game, mayhem ensues when the protagonists are unable to distinguish between the game and reality.
Sharp and unpredictable, with a hilariously witty script by Mark Perez and skilled direction by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, it's shot like an action thriller and keeps you guessing from beginning to end. What could have been a run-of-the-mill comedy punches above its weight, with running gags that don't run out of steam.
The innately charming Bateman and McAdams have a palpable chemistry and make for a convincingly normal couple, while the superb supporting cast are no mere window dressing as they play an integral part in the story.
But it is Jesse Plemons as the cop Gary, the weirdly intense next-door neighbour desperate to be part of the gang again following his divorce, who steals the film.
Fun and engaging.
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