Saturday, March 03, 2018

Game Night

So, mildly funny story - I got up at 5:30am Central to fly back home from vacation. The plane lands in Boston at about 1pm, it takes about a half hour for my luggage to emerge, but fortunately a Silver Line Bus shows up pretty quick. I ride that to South Station, transfer to the Red Line, and ride that to Davis Square. From there it's about a fifteen minute walk to my apartment.

There, on the front door, is a tag stating that I wasn't home for a delivery, and it was being held at the local FedEx distribution point. Which, as it turns out, is in the seaport, a couple stops down from South Station on the Silver Line. Well, actually the #7 bus, but I just missed that one on the way back and did have to take the Silver back to downtown.

The extra funny thing - they were my Red Sox season tickets, which will also be loaded onto my phone, so I didn't really need to make the trip. Which is a good way to lead into seeing an absurd comedy, since I'm downtown and near the theaters anyway.

Game Night

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 27 February 2017 in AMC Boston Common #9 (first-run, DCP)

Hey, check it out - a broad comedy where the characters actually, without-a-doubt, like each other! It doesn't seem like such a big deal to say, but so many of these movies are built around bickering and buried hostility that seeing how much the central pair is into one another - from a flashback opening that celebrates their shared eccentricity all the way to the end - is a breath of fresh air. Game Night is so flat-out fond of its goofball cast of characters that it seldom has to slow down to make sure that its many jokes don't get taken the wrong way.

That's mostly Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams), who met captaining opposing barroom trivia teams and have been leading weekly game nights with their friends ever since, though they're currently having trouble conceiving and Max is fretting over the imminent return of his brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) for a visit. And, indeed, Brooks seems to be passive-aggressively shoving his success in Max's face, inviting the regular crew - Kevin (Lamorne Morris) & Michelle (Kylie Bunbury), who have been together since junior high, Ryan (Billy Magnussen), a former co-worker, and Sarah (Sharon Horgan), who is suspiciously less of an airhead than Ryan's usual date - over to his fancy rented house for a mystery party. Next-door neighbor Gary (Jesse Plemons) is not invited, as he's been more and more uncomfortable to be around since breaking up with Debbie, which might be a mistake, as the guys who bust in and kidnap Brooks are not the actors he hired to do so.

There's something a little uneven about how Max's competitive nature has a story behind it which drives the movie - he's never beaten Brooks at anything and the stress is starting to eat him up - while Annie is just as aggressive, kind of getting a kick out of pointing a gun around when the opportunity comes, without it pushing much forward. Both of them could come across as obsessive psychopaths if not handled just right, but the script by Mark Perez is quick to dispense with the notion of them competing with each other rather than being supportive, and the actors make sure they're upbeat without being exhausting. Rachel McAdams seems to be having a blast as Annie, almost aggressively cheerful and sweet but not pushy, smiling wide but not so wide as to seem like she's enjoying something she shouldn't. She seems like a good influence on Jason Bateman, whose flustered everyman routine can often veer toward the sarcastic but here manages the same excellent comic timing with it skewed a bit more to the jovial.

Full review on EFC

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