Game Night

In this modern era of online and electronic gaming, it is hard to imagine that board games continue to have any appeal. Each year new options come to the market and the roll of the die continues to provide fun for families and friends around the world.

Some people live for competition, Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) met at trivia night at the local pub and their relationship grew through their mutual love of games. They have surrounded themselves with friends who enjoy everything from charades to Monopoly and game night is a tradition amongst these couples. One night Max’s brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) decides to invite the board game fans over for a unique action-packed night at the table.

He organises a group of fake kidnappers and federal agents to step up the group’s typical evening of Pictionary or Risk, but things go very wrong. Brooks becomes the real-life victim of a kidnapping that occurs in front of the group, but they all think that it is just part of the game. As the couples set off to solve the crime, they eventually come to the realisation that things are not as innocent as they seem. Their game night becomes a mystery to determine how they can rescue Brooks from his captors and how they can get back to their lives.

The primary reason for going to a friend’s house for game night besides enjoying time with friends and getting those competitive juices flowing is to have some fun. If anything can be said about the movie Game Night is that it is pure fun. It is ridiculous and pushes against the edge of any reality, but does deliver some of the best laughs of the season.

Audiences may have a love/hate relationship with Bateman and McAdams, because regardless of the genre, these two actors continue to play to a specific type. If you love the comedic stylings of the Arrested Development alumnus and the queen of the rom-com, this is a film with their fan base in mind.  Even though these two seasoned actors have not been in a movie together in the past, they manage to slot right into these roles and lead this cast down a hilarious suburban adventure that will cause a couple to run out and buy the latest board game and start a game night themselves. They are supported by a wonderful cast to complement this dysfunctional band of board game aficionados with a stand out performance from Jesse Plemons (The Post) who plays the creepy next-door neighbour.

The comedy does spiral into a farcical series of twists and turns that almost derail the whole thing, but thankfully directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (Vacation) manage to keep the dice on the board and deliver a winning conclusion. This season of life is experienced by many couples as they transition into the stage of having children and they must come to terms with no longer being children themselves.  Screenwriter Mark Perez manages to weave in some harsh realities of life that make this comedy even more accessible to audiences. Due to coarse language and sexual anecdotes peppered into the script, it makes it inaccessible to younger audiences, but the clever writing does prove for a winning night for couples.

REEL DIALOGUE – What is the value of a group of friends?  

What Game Night taps into is the value of a group of friends. Regardless of the season of life, everyone needs others to enjoy life together. Each person within your group offers something different to the others and this is what shows the reason they are there. This circle of friends change as people travel through life cycles, but this does not diminish their importance in life.

The concepts of friendship and community have winning applications and examples in the Bible. From the bonds of David and Jonathan, the letters written by Paul and the example of Jesus and his disciples, we can see the need for these individuals in this earthly existence. If this film does anything, it might be a challenge to call up a few friends to get together and invest in a gift given to us by God: friends.

Verses on Friendship: 

Proverbs 13:20, Proverbs 18:24, Ecclesiastes 4:9-10,1 Corinthians 15:33,

Colossians 3:12-14

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Russell Matthews

Russell loves film and enjoys engaging in discussions about the latest cinema offerings and then connecting this with the Gospel. He has worked for City Bible Forum for over 10 years, is a reviewer for Insights Magazine and Entertainment Fuse and has a blog called Russelling Reviews. He moderates events for Reel Dialogue which connect the film industry with the general public.