By Liz Lopez

Rating: B

Board games are still very popular after many decades and in fact, game night is alive and well in Austin in many homes – and not just among the elderly. Various types of games are not only for entertainment, as families and friends enjoy the competition, showing off how much an individual knows about a certain topic and perhaps more. When I first heard the title of the Warner Bros. film, “Game Night,” starring Jason Bateman (“Horrible Bosses,” “Office Christmas Party”) I was not expecting much more in comedic entertainment than the usual “party” fare with some raunchy humor I can do without. I then saw the trailer, and the cast of actors that really changed my mind about viewing the film. The screenplay by Mark Perez (“Accepted,” “Back Nine”) is an action comedy with a twist – including suspense and crime – that is really laugh out loud funny in some scenes. There is more to this story than just the games played among friends, as Bateman’s character Max is married to Annie (Rachel McAdams). Without revealing too much more, this couple has a bit of game playing between them as to how to deal with a topic that may resonate with people of a certain age. The lead and supporting cast has great chemistry, produce excellent comedic work and Jesse Plemons has some scene stealing moments – some of his best work with his character. I left the theater wanting to view it again!

Directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (co-screenwriters of “Horrible Bosses” and co-story writers of “Spider-Man: Homecoming,”), some scenes bring back memories of films Bateman has starred in before, but not completely to the point to where it is so predictable the viewer will lose interest or select not to view it at all. There is a good mix of comedy, action and drama in the screenplay by Perez that will keep viewers engaged and laughing to not dismiss this feature film.

In this story, two married couples and a single friend (who brings a new girl to each game night), gather for their evening of entertainment at Max and Annie’s home. Their divorced law enforcement next door neighbor, Gary (Jesse Plemons), pines for being included in the parties once again as he once was. To say the least, his personality does not bring them joy anymore. Max’s older and successful brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler), wants back into the family’s life and proposes a game to beat all games. They are all in and curious about the proposal, until they learn what they actually become involved in. It gets real.

Among the group is another very engaging couple in this game of life, Michelle (Kylie Bunbury) and Kevin (Lamorne Morris). In the midst of the game, they find themselves discussing a marital issue. Denzel Washington’s name is thrown about so much, with scenes so hilarious and are a must see!

Crime boss Donald Anderton (Danny Huston) has a fancy home where he hosts elaborate events. Why not crash the party to get to something the group needs for the game they are involved in? When Ryan (Billy Magnussen) gets a chance to save the day, he shows everyone how dim his light really is!

Sharon Horgan (TV Series “Catastrophe”) stars as Sarah, Ryan’s more recent party companion and she is fantastic in her role of the older woman companion to the younger, clueless pretty boy that helps the crew survive the night. The film also includes Michael C. Hall, Jeffrey Wright and Chelsea Peretti among the supporting cast.

Composer Cliff Martinez, known for his excellent work in “Traffic” and “Drive” among other more recent films, provides an excellent score for the action/dramatic scenes, along with Barry Peterson (Camera) and Editors: David Egan, Jamie Gross, Gregory Plotkin.

The 100 minute film has an R MPAA Rating and is in theaters as of February 23, 2018.

Source: Warner Bros.

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