The title of the new film, “Game Night,” evokes memories of time spent with friends and in fierce competition to see who will come up on top. I remember games of Monopoly when my dad swept the board and claimed victory with his real-estate holdings.
While I didn’t win those games with pops, I still had fun. It created a lot of memories that I look back on fondly.
However, watching “Game Night” didn’t do that for me at all. It clearly showed that the winners were the studio executives cashing in on the box office revenue.
The story centers on a group of friends who gather once a week for a night of board games. The weekly event is taken to a new level when Brooks (Kyle Chandler) decides to host the event at his house. Instead of the usual, Brooks opts for the group to solve a murder mystery with actors playing the parts.
Two real criminals break into the house and kidnap Brooks as game night starts. The group looks on as Brooks battles the two thugs for his life thinking that it is part of the production. He is dragged kicking and screaming from the home as the friends applaud the performance. With Brooks out of the picture, the group works to solve what they think is a mystery.
For me, “Game Night” seemed like a rather bland experience. A comedy is supposed to have moments that you can connect with the characters through the absurdity of their actions. Those moments bring the audience into the story and in on the joke. It provides a layer of value to the story.
Moments like the deer in the backseat of a convertible in “Tommy Boy” or the theft of a tiger from former boxer Mike Tyson’s house in “The Hangover” really carry the story forward. It builds up the anticipation of what is going to happen next and leaves the audience contemplating the possibilities.
There was not a defining moment like that in “Game Night.” Time just seemed to pass on without notice.
Were there scenes in the film that made me laugh? Yes, there are a few funny lines of dialog but nothing out of the ordinary to set it apart from other movies that have come before.
The sad part about “Game Night” is director Jonathan Goldstein knows how to make a great comedy. Goldstein was one of the writers for “Horrible Bosses,” which makes me laugh every time I have seen it. That film connected with audiences by making the humor focused on the situation and less about the characters.
This type of humor has lasting power and creates something that people will enjoy for years. A great example of that comes from television in the show “I Love Lucy.” The comedy focuses on the trouble that Lucy got herself in and the schemes she came up with to dig herself out.
Game Night is not the worst film that I have seen but if you don’t get the chance to see it in theaters your not going to miss much. Waiting for it to come out as a rental might be the better choice in the end. In fact, I recommend hosting a game night instead. Invite some friends over to the house, bust out the chips, and dust off the board games that way everyone comes out as a winner.
I give “Game Night” two and a half mustaches out of five.
This film is rated R for language, sexual references, and some violence. Game Night runs 100 minutes.