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Game Night (2018)

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/22/2018

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/1/2018

One of the great things about the modern world is that movie fans have access to so much information about cinema. From upcoming movies to film trivia to hidden secrets, lovers of celluloid can get their hands on pretty much anything these days. Conversely, it's not a good thing that movie fans have access to so much information about cinema. Through trailers and news reports, we learn a great about movies and often prejudge them before they are released. This raises the question -- How accurate are these assumptions? And can they make a movie like Game Night seem like a big surprise?

Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) met at a bar on "Trivia Night" and their love of games and competition is at the cornerstone of their relationship. They continue to host game nights with their friends Kevin (Lamorne Morris), Michelle (Kylie Bunbury), Ryan (Billy Magnussen) and whatever woman Ryan brings each week. And while these events are meant to be friendly fun, Max and Annie strive to win each time. Which is why Max is somewhat bummed to learn that his big brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler), is coming to visit, as he's always felt overshadowed by his sibling. And true to form, Brooks comes in and takes over game night, announcing that he's arranged for a special mystery game in which someone will be kidnapped. And just a few minutes later, masked gunmen storm into the house and take Brooks, and the group is up for playing along. However, it soon becomes clear that this may not be a game and that Brooks may be in real danger.

Game Night comes from Co-Directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. This surprised me, as I didn't think that they would be allowed behind a camera again after they helmed 2015's Vacation reboot. Not only did that film sully the good name of a classic franchise, but it was simply a bad movie. And while I've only seen it once, I don't recall any moments in Vacation which spoke to any kind of filmmaking skills on the parts of Daley and Goldstein. They have certainly stepped-up their game with Game Night. Going in, one would expect this to be a fairly banal movie (more on that in a moment), but the visual style immediately sets the tone for the project. (Actually, the way in which the studio logos are presented amongst game pieces kicks things off in a creative way.) The editing choices are very clever and I especially liked how the exterior establishing shots looked like a gameboard.

Granted, some may not appreciate the thought being put into the look of the film, which is OK, as the movie has plenty more to offer. The film's premise is pretty simple, but admittedly clever, and it uses this idea as a jumping-off point to take the story in some interesting directions. Game Night does a nice job of pushing the envelope without going too far. (This is clearly a lesson which the directors learned between films.) There are some surprising things here, but nothing truly shocking. The movie doesn't lose sight of the fact that it's an action-comedy and it delivers nice doses of both. The action scenes are well-done, and the movie is consistently funny, delivering some nice belly-laughs at times.

It seems that every modern trailer gives too much away, but the preview for Game Night felt especially guilty of over-indulging. I'm sure that many walked way from that trailer, and thought, "Well, I've seen that entire movie." Granted, the preview reveals a lot of the story and of the funny moments, but there is also a lot more to the film. From the big plot twist to the interactions between the characters, there is more going on here. Game Night is never deep, but it is a nice reminder that Hollywood can make comedies geared towards adults which include relatable characters and situations which are interesting without becoming bonkers. Do yourself a favor and include Game Night in your next movie night.

Game Night has a monopoly on funny movies involving board games courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 28 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain or defects from the source materials. The movie makes very good use of color and the tones look very good here, as the image is never overly dark or bright. There is an excellent use of depth here, as the establishing shots have a nice 3D look. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The action sequences deliver notable surround and subwoofer effects, some of which are nicely detailed. The stereo effects also deliver, highlighting sounds coming from off-screen. The score also brings out some nice bass action.

The Game Night Blu-ray Disc contains only two extra features. "An Unforgettable Evening: Making Game Night" (4 minutes) is a brief featurette which contains comments from the cast and creative team, and offers an overview of the film's plot and themes. The other extra is a 7-minute GAG REEL.

Review Copyright 2009/2018 by Mike Long