GAME NIGHT — Review by Martha K. Baker

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‘Game Night’ proves to be fitfully funny. This bombette is being sold as produced by the people who brought you “Horrible Bosses.” Now, that was funny, right there. And “Game Night” is funny, too — fitfully rather than fluidly. However, if belly laughs are as medicinal as claimed, then the gut-busters provided by “Game Night” balance the other 65 minutes of flat-lining. Continue reading…

Directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein wrote “Horrible Bosses,” but Mark Perez wrote “Game Night.” Perez is one of the inaugural members of the Disney Writers’ Program, and he worked on “Herbie Fully Loaded.” Some of his lines for “Game Night” are toss-off funnies, swallowed in the mouths of actors not facing the camera, so to get the punch lines requires closed-captioning. Also, the plot plops wildly like a caught fish all over the silver screen.

Max and Annie are competitors, who met while gaming. They marry. They hold game nights with another two pairs of friends but not with the weird neighbor next door whose wife left him holding the dog. Max and Annie want to make a baby, but their doctor says that Max’s spermatozoon motility may be suffering from his sibling rivalry with his brother Brooks. Suave, handsome, successful Brooks shows up in a 1976 Stingray and suggests upping the game a bit. That means a Fabergé egg, actors pretending — or not — to be kidnappers, gang-bangers, and guns, among other twists. Whenever the story moves forward, it digresses for a comedy shtick.

The cast, each of whom must have had a mortgage payment due to sign this contract, does its best. Jason Bateman is always good at being non-plussed, and Rachel McAdams is plucky. Kyle Chandler shows his comedic chops. But Michael C. Hall and Danny Huston serve only as place holders.

“Game Night” is a hot mess, but there are those laughs, and they’re surely worth something, right?

This is Martha Baker with a KDHX film review of “Game Night.

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Martha K. Baker

I first taught film at Lakeland College in Wisconsin in 1969 and became a professional film reviewer in 1976 in St. Louis, Mo. Through the years, I have reviewed films for the St. Louis Business Journal, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Episcopal Life, and KWMU (NPR), among other outlets. I've reviewed at KDHX radio, my current outlet, for nearly 20 years.