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Jason Bateman & Rachel McAdams Score on ‘Game Night’

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Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – A game cast elevates what is otherwise a bit of a ho hum affair in the action comedy “Game Night.” Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams are a middle class couple hosting weekly game nights with a group of good friends. But when Bateman’s competitive venture capitalist older brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) comes to town, he promises to take game night up a notch.

This leads to a somewhat convoluted plot which attempts to confuse both the characters and audiences about what is real and what is not, and who’s in on it. And luckily by this time, Jason Bateman can play a part like this in his sleep. He’s his usual uptight “Michael Bluth” type, but Bateman continues to find a way to mine laughs out of his usual persona. It’s hard to imagine anyone else getting as much humor out of an “Ed Norton” game clue as Bateman does here. It helps to have McAdams, who not only displays real winning chemistry with Bateman, but shows a go-for-broke flair for comedy without spilling over into desperate mugging.

Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman (front) Lead the Gang in ‘Game Night’
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

However, the same can’t be said for the script (by Mark Perez) and direction. The two man directing team of John Francis Daley (the grown-up Sam Weir from “Freaks & Geeks”) and Jonathan Goldstein were previously responsible for the similarly mildly amusing “Horrible Bosses.” They slightly up their “game” here, which at least doesn’t rely as much on stunt casting for its laughs, and doesn’t give all the good jokes away in the trailers.

The film aims to borrow more than a few beats, along with a soundtrack, from the films of director David Fincher. However, “Game Night” never quite commits to a single version of itself. The film can’t quite decide if it wants to be a laugh-a-minute zany comedy with some action, or a dark action picture with some comedic elements. However, they toss in just about everything – including the kitchen sink – in an attempt to throw the audience off their game, regardless of whether it makes the slightest sense or not.

The biggest laughs here come on the margins. McAdams and Bateman display a sense of humor about the whole enterprise, never quite taking anything too seriously. And it’s their relationship, and their tossed off asides about the situations they find themselves in, that are the funniest parts… much funnier than the situations themselves. Standouts in the rest of the cast include Kylie Bunbury and Lamorne Morris as a couple trying to reconcile the past, and Jesse Plemons, who manages to make an impression as a creepy divorced cop next door, despite limited screen time

Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams Play Along in ‘Game Night’
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Game Night won’t be an all time classic, and in fact you may have trouble remembering it next week. But if you’re looking for a little something to put a smile on your face and some chuckles in your belly to get you and some friends out of the house, you could do a lot worse.

”Game Night” opens everywhere on February 23rd. Featuring Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Sharon Horgan, Billy Magnussen, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury and Michael C. Hall. Written by Mark Perez. Directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. Rated “R”

HollywoodChicago.com contributor Spike Walters


© 2018 Spike Walters, HollywoodChicago.com

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