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‘Game Night’ delivers on laughs and intrigue

With stylish direction and outrageous humor, ‘Game Night’ surprises audiences.

Jason+Bateman%2C+Rachel+McAdams%2C+Sharon+Horgan%2C+Lamorne+Morris%2C+Billy+Magnussen+and+Kylie+Bunbury+play+a+group+of+friends+in+a+playfully+dangerous+situation+in+%22Game+Night.%22
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‘Game Night’ delivers on laughs and intrigue

Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Billy Magnussen and Kylie Bunbury play a group of friends in a playfully dangerous situation in

Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Billy Magnussen and Kylie Bunbury play a group of friends in a playfully dangerous situation in "Game Night."

Courtesy of IMDB

Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Billy Magnussen and Kylie Bunbury play a group of friends in a playfully dangerous situation in "Game Night."

Courtesy of IMDB

Courtesy of IMDB

Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Billy Magnussen and Kylie Bunbury play a group of friends in a playfully dangerous situation in "Game Night."

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Screenwriters John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein have secretly been the driving force behind a lot of major comedy hits over the past seven years, including “Horrible Bosses” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” They have delivered again with their new film, “Game Night.”

The film follows a group of friends who host a regular game night, but when one of them, Brooks (Kyle Chandler), tries to kick it up a notch and turn it into a fake kidnapping mystery game, it becomes all too real.

The plot’s setup already structures the film with an interesting concept, as the idea of a game becoming dangerously close to reality is typically reserved for more family-friendly fare, such as “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.”

As the film progresses, the twists delivered by the characters prove to be fairly surprising, especially for a comedy, and the levels of mystery surrounding what’s real and what’s not prove to be a solid puzzle for audiences to solve.

While the storyline was a strong highlight, the film truly shined in two key areas, the first of which is humor. Adult game nights typically tend to bring out the most outrageous behavior in the players, and the film not only shows these quirks during their regular game nights, but how they come out in new ways as they find themselves in real danger.

The ensemble cast is made up primarily of comedy heavyweights: Jason Bateman of “Arrested Development” fame, Rachel McAdams from modern classic “Wedding Crashers” and Lamorne Morris from the TV show “New Girl.” Everyone embodies their characters brilliantly, showing stellar chemistry with each other and delivering all of the laughs with bravura.

One actor who particularly shines is Jesse Plemons, who came to fame in “Breaking Bad” who plays the awkward police neighbor, Gary in this comedy. Formerly a member of the game night crew before his wife divorced him, Gary has been shunned for his quiet and often creepy nature as the group works to avoid him and keep him out of the game nights.

In recent roles, Plemons has portrayed the quieter characters, but never in a capacity such as this. He knows how to make it just over-the-top enough to compel the audience to simultaneously laugh and cringe while remaining a believable character.

His socially awkward nature, including smiling only once or twice and never removing his police uniform, create an eerie character that audiences want to see more and less of at the same time.

The second highlight of the film is the direction, which is arguably some of the most stylish of all time in comedy . One of the most intriguing shots recreated throughout the film is a long-distance shot to set up the general area, which at first glance fools audiences into thinking they’re looking at a board game until the objects on screen begin moving.

Even as Michelle (Kylie Bunburry) regails her tale of how she supposedly met Denzel Washington, a few of the shots recall fond memories of the classic mystery board game Clue.

The co-directors, who are set to direct the upcoming DC Comics film “Flashpoint,” also prove their skill with the action scenes, especially the driving sequences in which the camera follows above the cars in a way that is similar to racing video games.

The best sequence, however, is the foot chase which employs the challenging one-take technique as the group plays hot potato with a valuable item. The camera’s movements are smooth and steady during the scene. It keeps all the action in focus for the audience while also appearing so seamless it makes it easy for audiences to forget they’re not seeing a single obvious cut.

Despite a few moments where the film’s jokes fall flat and the movie’s incorporation of some typical mystery formula, “Game Night” shines thanks to its strong cast and slick direction.

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