Have you ever seen one of those movies that is so stupid that it’s actually good? I would say that that is probably the most accurate way to describe Game Night. It was really a whirlwind. I laughed, I was scared and I was definitely confused. I’m pretty sure I even said, “wait, what?” out loud a couple of times.
The movie starts with a bar scene where two overly competitive 20-somethings, Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams), fall in love (never before seen plotline, right?). Flash forward and the couple is hosting one of their weekly game nights. As per usual, the couple has to avoid their awkward, slightly off-putting, police officer neighbor who always wants to participate in game night. This game night is special, however, because Max’s more successful, better-looking brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler), is in town and plans to attend. The night goes on as a usual game night would (some charades, the typical rivalries and, of course, some embarrassing sibling stories) and at the end of the night, Brooks asked if he could host game night at his place the following week.
The crew agrees and a week later are all together again, this time drinking some champagne and listening to the new rules of game night. Brooks tells the group that someone will be kidnapped and that the first team to solve the mystery will win a red Sting Ray car. Eventually, Brooks himself is kidnapped and the game begins. However, the group shortly realizes that this is not just a game and that the kidnapping was, in fact, reality. Before you know it, the whole night turns from fun to frightening and you have no idea what is real and what is staged.
To be honest, the entire film was extremely unrealistic and random. I consistently questioned how the group miraculously escapes a situation or how Max gets shot in the arm and carries along as if he had gotten a light scrape. At one point, Max even tried out a move that he had learned from watching a James Bond movie … and it works.
There was also a consistent connection to the audience throughout the movie. It was kind of like going through the confusing experience together. I felt like we were all asking ourselves questions like, “is this still a set-up game or is this actually real? Did that character actually get shot? Was the celebrity that Michelle (Kylie Bunbury) slept with actually Bill Nye?” I kept finding myself wanting to tap the person in front of me to ask what he thought was really going on. I was constantly changing my mind and questioning what was reality, like the funny, overly dramatic rendition of the reality paradox in Inception.
On a positive note, there were a lot of really funny one-liners that constantly had me laughing out loud. It was dumb at times, which made the movie even better, and I laughed even harder. Additionally, the cast was stacked. Lamorne Morris, who plays Winston Bishop in New Girl, was consistently hilarious and I had a soft spot for Kyle Chandler, who plays Coach Eric Taylor in Friday Night Lights, and wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt from the moment he drove up to Max and Annie’s house. Throughout the movie, I was rooting for the characters as they went through this abnormal game night, which kept me curious and engaged.
In the end, the movie came full circle. I had high hopes from watching the trailer (which gives way too much away. You can’t tell me all of your funniest lines before I even buy a ticket) which turned into a rollercoaster of opinions that rapidly fluctuated throughout the movie. But, finally, I reverted back to the optimistic opinion that I once had because everything somehow came together.
Overall, I would say that I felt positive ambivalence. There was a question that asked if I would recommend the movie to a friend on a survey I took for Cornell Cinema at the end of the movie. I thought about my answer for a bit and eventually chose “yes.” I’m not really sure why I chose yes, but there was just something about it — maybe the lovable characters or just the grandiose, unrealistic aspect of it all — that still makes me smirk when thinking about it.
Rachel Mattessich is a sophomore in the College of Human Ecology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.