Marlborough Midweek - - OUT & ABOUT -

Every­body loves ‘‘just a movie’’. I hear it in the com­ments and in con­ver­sa­tions with friends all the time. ‘‘Why were you so crit­i­cal of blah blah? It was just a movie.’’

But, so of­ten a film isn’t just a movie. It’s try­ing to say some­thing, or prove some­thing, or make some damned point about some damned thing and we have to judge the film on whether it was achieved or not.

And then, once in a while, a Ju­manji, or a Bad Moms, or even a Lady Bird comes along. Films that want noth­ing more than to tell us a yarn, make us laugh or cry when we should, and send us out to the night happy to have shelled out for the park­ing and pop­corn be­cause they de­liv­ered what they promised with a bit of style and their hearts in ex­actly the right place. Meet Game Night. Ja­son Bate­man and Rachel McA­dams are mar­ried cou­ple Max and An­nie. Max’s brother Brooks, whose charm and suc­cess Max finds lit­er­ally emas­cu­lat­ing, is in town.

Brooks de­cides to kick the cou­ple’s reg­u­lar game night up a notch, with a faked kid­nap­ping sce­nario staged by ac­tors.

But, Brooks has some real bad guys af­ter him... and that’s all I need to tell you about that.

Bate­man and McA­dams are a dream team for this ma­te­rial, with Kyle Chan­dler like­wise per­fect as the charis­matic Brooks. Around th­ese three a solid sup­port cast all do fine things with their mo­ments in the spot­light.

Cur­rent go-to guy Jesse Ple­mons ( Black Mir­ror) con­tin­ues his you’ve seen-him-some­where­be­fore ca­reer arc as the sub­limely dis­com­fort­ing cop next door. A late cameo for Michael C Hall (Dex­ter) lifts the film just as it to feels like it’s run­ning out of steam.

Game Night prob­a­bly owes a fair bit of its con­cep­tion and in­spi­ra­tion to the 2010 Steve Carell/Tina Fey-star­ring Date Night, but that’s not a bad thing. Date Night is a ter­rific film and Game Night is mostly wor­thy of the com­par­i­son. Some un­ex­pect­edly ex­cel­lent sound and cam­era work lifts the film con­sid­er­ably.

A one-shot (faked, but well) multi-per­son chase around a man­sion with a Faberge egg be­ing tossed around like a foot­ball is a bravura bit of work. For a Fri­day night out, when you just want to be en­ter­tained with­out be­ing in­sulted, Game Night ticks every box. It’s a dense, clever, good­na­tured and truly funny film. Bravo.

– Graeme Tuck­ett

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