Blu-ray Review: Game Night

By , Contributor
Game Night, the ensemble comedy led by Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams (now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD via Warner Bros. Home Entertainment), managed a relatively rare feat for a comedy. It scored big with the critics. Without really staking out any inventive new comedic ground, Game Night earned its stripes simply by delivering consistent laughs.

Married Max (Bateman) and Annie (McAdams) get together regularly with a couple of other couples—Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury), plus Ryan (Billy Magnusson) and whoever his latest flame is (in this case Sarah; Sharon Horgan)—for a round of board games. Ever since he split with his wife, cop neighbor Gary (Jesse Plemons, stealing every single scene he's in) has been dis-invited from this ritual.

What's different for this most-recent event is that they're all getting together with Max's brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler). Max and Brooks guys take sibling rivalry to a whole new level, with the latter constantly trying to one-up the former. Brooks has planned a whole "interactive murder mystery" game, with actors, props, and a "plot" that everyone becomes fully immersed in. It's no spoiler (especially if you've seen the trailer) to reveal that real bad guys and cops get involved. In what is a bit of a ridiculous conceit, Max, Annie, and the other couples are very slow to realize that the Fabergé egg they're hunting, in the possession of a man known as "the Bulgarian," is much more than the McGuffin in an open-world role-playing game. And Brooks' very life, Max is shocked to realize, is at stake.

The plot continually teeters on the brink of collapse into nonsense, but that's really beside the point here. Max and Annie get into some deliriously funny situations as they embrace their long-shackled wild sides. Bateman's patented reactionary timing, perfected throughout multiple seasons of Arrested Development, serves him well throughout. McAdams hasn't been this funny since Mean Girls (maybe ever, in fact). Her attempts to teach a bunch of violent hoods (who she mistakes as entertainers) the yoga pose Bālāsana is not only a wacky highlight, it pays off later in the film's third act. And Jesse Plemons, as the hopelessly square and forever heartbroken Gary, provides the biggest laughs. 

Game Night Jesse Plemons.jpg Warner Bros. Blu-ray Combo Pack (which includes a standard DVD plus Digital Copy) boasts a very small selection of supplementary features. There's a featurette, "An Unforgettable Evening: Making Game Night," and (exclusive to Blu-ray) a gag reel.

Remember those big, zany, farcical ensemble comedies of yesteryear like It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World or the original Pink Panther? Game Night kind of fits that bill for the modern era, packed with lots of action, out-of-left-field plot turns, and a showy, talented ensemble cast. This movie won't achieve the classic status of those earlier works, but it does its job nicely for viewers seeking some reliable lolz.
Game Night BD.jpg

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Chaz Lipp is a Las Vegas-based musician and freelance writer. His new jazz album 'Good Merlin' is now available.

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