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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Monday June 15, 2020 

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Max (Jason Bateman) and his wife Annie (Rachel McAdams) organize regular game nights at home with a group of friends. Everything changes when Max's brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) comes to town and the stakes are raised.

Review by Louise Keller:
Happily over the top, this zippy little thriller delivers laughs aplenty amidst a hyperactive plot that keeps you guessing until the very end. The humour is black, the premise quirky and the action relentless, with screenwriter Mark Perez' characters grounded by foibles that are instantly recognizable. Moreover, we like the characters. Despite and often because of their shortcomings. Directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein get the tone just right in this wild and wacky film that winks at its audience throughout and never takes itself too seriously as the lines between reality and fiction are blurred.

Jason Bateman (who also co-produced the film) is always likeable and here, he teams with an in-form Rachel McAdams. Her comic timing is a delight. As Max and Annie, their competitive nature is the key that winds them up. Also competitive is the relationship between Max and his venture capitalist brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler); their sibling rivalry is the foundation of basic plot points. Chandler is terrific. From the moment he screeches onscreen driving Max's dream car - a fire engine red Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe - the stakes are personal.

I couldn't stop laughing at scene-stealing Jesse Plemons, whose intense police officer neighbor Gary tries to bully Max and Annie into inviting him to their game nights. The sight of him (always in uniform) with his only friend, Bastian - a cute white terrier cradled under his arm - is hilarious. There are hearty chuckles in the scene when Bastian becomes the centre of attention, when everything goes wrong at the worst possible time.

A fun dynamic is established between the members of the group that regularly gather for the game nights. There is the string of dizzy blondes brought along by Ryan's (Billy Magnussen) self-professed ladies' man; his latest 'date' (Sharon Horgan) is surprisingly in a different mould. Also funny is the way the running-gag about infidelity with a celebrity plays out between Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and his partner Michelle (Kylie Bunbury).

But of course the main action lies in the game night that begins at Brooks' upmarket pad (described as 'Tony Stark's house'), when the ante rises. Watch for one of the funniest scenes involving Bateman and McAdams and the removal of a stray bullet. The audience shrieked at the preview screening. As befitting the genre, there are a few scares and the music cues alert us to them all.

Short and snappy with plenty of laughs, Game Night is a dark and welcome surprise. Are you game?

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(US, 2018)

CAST: Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, Kyle Chandler, Jesse Plemons, Michael C. Hall, Chelsea Peretti, Billy Magnussen, Kylie Bunbury, Danny Huston, Sharon Horgan

PRODUCER: Jason Bateman, John Davis, John Fox

DIRECTOR: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein

SCRIPT: Mark Perez


EDITOR: David Egan, Jamie Gross, Gregory Plotkin

MUSIC: Cliff Martinez

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michael Corenblith

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 23, 2018

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