Questionable Cinema: 'Game Night' strikes balance between humor and action

Some game nights have charades. Some have dominoes. Others, Settlers of Catan. But in the movie Game Night, there's also a healthy dose of crime, blood and kidnapping.

Max and Annie (Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams) are a pretty routine movie couple who host a pretty routine game night with a group of laid back, close friends. Relatable, right? It's a run-of-the-mill comedy until Max's brother (Kyle Chandler) kicks things up a notch by orchestrating a kidnapping mystery game -- that gets interrupted by a real kidnapping. What follows is a crazy, charmingly funny and surprisingly violent blend of action spoof and screwball comedy.

On the Venn diagram, it falls into the perfect spot intersecting dumb jokes, explosive action and nerdy references to make it a movie Britton and Sarah see together. So we did.

Britton: I'm a big nerd, so I've certainly had game nights with friends before -- although none of them involved a kidnapping. Or guns. Or even charades. Did you have any idea what to expect from Game Night?

Sarah: I came into this movie expecting a lot, because it has so many great actors in it: main characters Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams (playing Max and Annie) and Lamorne Morris (playing Kevin, one of several funny friends). This movie had to be good, right?

Britton: You'd think that, but you didn't fall in love with another Bateman picture we saw, Office Christmas Party.

Still, of the stupid R-rated comedies we've seen together, I honestly think this is one of the best ones. I think one of the reasons it worked well was because it nailed both of its biggest aspects: It was laugh-out-loud funny, and it was a compelling mystery.

I know you're a big fan of riddles, but we only really got one of those. Were you satisfied with the amount of puzzle-solving in the movie?

Sarah: Yes! You explained it perfectly: This movie was very funny, occasionally stupid and made me think. It's one of the few dumb comedies I'd watch many times again. In fact, I'd rank it up there with some of my all-time favorite funnies, Christmas Vacation and Anchorman.

No spoilers, but one of my favorite parts was when Rachel McAdams prances around a bar with a loaded gun, while her bad-guy captors whimper while laying in Child's Pose (as instructed by McAdams, who doesn't have much experience with all this stick 'em up stuff). What'd you think of her?

Britton: I like McAdams in most things she's in, and I agree. Her character was great and well-rounded. She's an adorably competitive spouse that knows when to rein in her digs at her husband when he really needs to be supported.

It's a bit shocking, though, how quickly every member of this friend group goes from, "Let's just play Risk and eat some cheese" to "We are getting shot at and are about to commit a crime, and yet none of us are in shock or freaking out too much." Did you feel any of that disconnect, or were the jokes and action enough to keep you going?

Sarah: I didn't feel any disconnect, but that's probably because, for me, it was all about the cheap laughs. Could six smart friends get caught up in an outrageous heist? OK, sure!

One thing I'll say is that I really recommend this movie in the movie theater. There's something about laughing out loud with a bunch of strangers that makes the sillier moments even funnier.

Britton, would you watch a Game Night 2, where the creepy neighbor joins in on the fun?

Britton: I would, but I would want them to change up the formula, and they could do that while keeping the game night theme. This movie was a fun twist on a murder mystery party, but I bet the writers could have fun with other concepts like an escape room or a game like Werewolf, where any fellow player could secretly be a villain.

And let's talk about that creepy neighbor for a sec. Dallas-born Jesse Plemons plays a wonderfully uncomfortable police officer who lives next to Max and Annie. He's that guy most of us know (and who some of us fear we are), that you used to hang out with but stop inviting to things because he just doesn't click with the rest of your friend group. He's an exaggerated version of that friend, sure (he's got a bit of a serial killer thing going for him), but we all know him.

So you and your husband want to come over for game night?

Sarah: Yes, please!

Britton: Great! You bring the wine, I'll supply the guns, criminals and smuggled items. It'll be a blast.

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