There are many different types of adult comedies and Game Night tries to straddle several of them at once. Surprisingly it works for the most part, but by the end, the delicate logic the story has built begins to crumble. The decent acting, fast pace and willingness to take the jokes in directions that are actually funny instead of the same tired old nonsense, make it an interesting experience, even if it doesn’t have much depth.
Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman, the stars of Game Night, play a married couple, Annie and Max who love any kind of competition. Every Friday they host a game night for their friends, and the opening of the film is just before one of these and the film uses the opportunity to cram in the necessary backstory so it can get to the jokes as soon as possible. Most of this focuses on Max’s antagonistic relationship with his wealthy venture capitalist brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler) that has seemingly given him an inferiority complex. Of course, that night Brooks drops by unexpectedly and invites the whole group to his rented mansion for a special game the next weekend.
When they show up Brooks reveals that he has arranged an interactive event where one of them will be kidnapped and it will be up to the rest to rescue them. But before the game can start, two goons break in and have a violent slapstick fight with Brooks before dragging him out of the house with his guests unaware that anything isn’t part of the night’s planned events. The group starts searching for clues and each of the three couples ends up going their own way to try to solve the mystery. It isn’t long before they all realize something is wrong and Max must decide if he should leave the situation to the police or try to rescue his brother from the kidnappers. While this seems like it would make up most of the film, this barely scratches the surface of the convoluted plot that unfolds before reaching it’s final, over the top conclusion.
What starts as an obvious twist keeps going until it seems like anything can happen and by the final few scenes of the climax that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Thankfully Game Night knows when to bring the story to an end and how to make it marginally satisfying, even if it does play into more stereotypical expectations. The film mixes several different types of comedy, but it manages to maintain the same tone throughout, even as the reveals become ever more ridiculous. While Game Night suffers from logical fallout at the end, the sacrifice is in service to reaching bigger and bigger laughs and in this case that’s a worthy cause.