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Movie Review: 'Game Night'

I was headed into the theater, all ready to see the new science fiction adventure movie Annihilation. “I’ll bet this is going to be heavy,” I thought to myself. But I’d been sick all weekend, and I was still in a sort of weird head fog, and part of me really worried that I just wouldn’t be able to handle a movie called Annihilation.

So, at the last second, I bought a ticket to see Game Night instead.

Game Night is a comedy starring Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, about a hyper-competitive couple who routinely host game nights at their house. You know, charades, Pictionary, that kind of thing. One night Bateman’s brother shows up from out of town. He’s a high-powered hedge fund manager and he’s clearly held his success over Bateman’s head for most of their life. Before long, he’s the one hosting game night, and he’s come up with a kidnapping adventure for everyone to play. Like a murder-mystery-style game, except someone gets kidnapped instead of killed.

And this, of course, is where everything goes very, very wrong, and we’re thrust into a set of increasingly preposterous scenarios as our game players try to figure out exactly what’s real and what’s not.

The movie lobs a ton of jokes at us, and I’d say about a third of them hit, but that’s not really a bad percentage, when you think about it. It follows the pattern of something like Bridesmaids: it’s a solid grown-up comedy with a couple of majorly outrageous set pieces interspersed with clever dialogue, though the scenes with Bateman and McAdams are far and away the funniest, and McAdams herself acts comedic rings around everyone else in the film.

Ultimately, Game Night gave my fog-addled brain what it needed—I didn’t have to think too hard about where it was headed, although it still surprised me from time to time, and I got plenty of chuckles. The movie knows what it is and doesn’t try to do more than that, and for a comedy in late winter, that’s plenty good enough.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.