Game Night (2018)

Game Night (2018) Cover

Game Night is one of those films that picks a theme and uses that theme to unify every aspect of its construction. Game Night imbues its editing, plot, dialog, and character performances with the levity that comes from playing games competitively with friends. With very few real flaw, it shines as one of the better movies of the year, which is unique for this style of comedy.

I really appreciate when a filmmaker delights in the entire craft of their work. Directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein clearly took immense joy in structuring Game Night from top to bottom with a sense of playfulness that is appropriate to the story just as writer Mark Perez plays with the audience with a winding narrative that works because of the levity it uses in approaching the plot. Where the pure joy of directing shows most here is the transition shots. All of the transition shots in Game Night are zoomed out, and either make real-world cars and actors look and feel like board game pieces or they use plastic board game pieces and toy cars in a way that makes them look as though they are real.

It’s a clever trick, and a beautiful use of both directing and editing to play with the subject matter. In addition to the craft exercised in the writing and directing, all of the actors put out performances that entertain and delight. The absolute standout here is Jesse Plemons (Meth Damon) as Gary. Jesse Plemons steals every scene he is in, and I was left constantly wanting to see more of Gary. Outside of Jesse Plemons, Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman have a great deal of chemistry that, combined with their talent and skill as performers, adds to the story.

Beyond all of these positive aspects, Game Night also delves into how we compete with the people around us. I found the questions about how we define our role models by defining what we want out of life can affect our ability to be happy. Though this was there, it was in the background, and I do feel it could possibly have been built a little more tightly into the metaphors of the story. As a follow up to this, there is definitely a feeling of disconnected events that carries Game Night through its last 15 minutes that fails to organically close out the narrative.

While the plot meanders a bit, the tone of the film keeps it from being too distracting. The whole film feels playful, and this fits with that, but there was definitely room for more focus in the direction as Game Night starts tying together its story. This is also one of those areas where your mileage may vary and how funny you find the humor to be will definitely determine how important this is to you as a viewer.

As a final nitpick against Game Night, I have to say that the music was not particularly memorable. It was enjoyable, and it wasn’t ever distracting, but it rarely felt like it really moved the story forward or tied a scene together. I’d like to have seen the same level of joy for composition in the music as there is in the directing, writing, and acting.

Overall, Game Night is an excellent movie. Its meticulous construction and passionate delivery of its story in ways that feel consistently playful make Game Night something special that will be worth remembering as one of the better films of its type ever made. If you’re into smart and light comedy, definitely give this one a watch.

Final Verdict:A well crafted comedy that delights and entertains.