Rachel McAdams & Jason Bateman star in new Game Night clips


Billy Magnussen excels as the hilariously dim-witted Ryan, a game-night regular who brings a new date every week. The result is one of the tightest and funniest Hollywood studio comedies of recent years. They still think they're playing a game and do whatever it takes to give them a competitive advantage, even if it means driving out to the company, where a pregnant Glenda (Chelsea Peretti) is there to greet them, in order to find out the winning clue. But the chance to work with John and Jonathan again proved more enticing than directing his third feature. Well, things are spinning out of control, aren't they? I feel like more could have been done with Billy Magnussen's character, the rather dumb (for a Harvard guy) Ryan, but then he probably wouldn't have a different self-absorbed date every week, rendering the more interesting Sharon Horgan unnecessary.

That's not a complaint, because Bateman's familiar presence unlocks the film in an interesting way; it seems to become an extension of his publicly perceived sensibility.

However, some of the gags breached into stupidity, like Annie mistaking the exit wound from a bullet on Max's arm as a separate gunshot wound. That's the question posed in the first half hour of the 100-minute movie. They include co-director John Francis Daley, who was unforgettable as the hapless Sam in the seminal, short-lived dramedy series Freaks and Geeks.

Bateman was impressed with the two of them throughout the filming of their sophomore effort. Particularly fun is a game of keep-away with a Fabergé egg, the crew tearing around a mansion passing off this stolen MacGuffin as the camera follows at a gleeful, dizzying zip. They don't really have to do anything.

Attempting to explain why a comedy works is a kind of futile exercise, but this group of actors just works together. The very best moments in Game Night are about that connection, that ability to lean on our partner in the hardest moments, and good comedies can land some real points about who we are and how we live amidst the biggest laughs. There's a genuine sense of peril and people do get hurt, but you always sense the directors are holding back just to ensure everyone has a good time. No one knows it's real, though, setting everyone on the trail of the kidnappers and creating some bloody, unsafe chaos as a result.

Daley says: "You can definitely undercut the genre itself because there isn't anything wholly original about any of these superhero origin stories - they've existed for decades".

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"Those (scenes) move very slowly - there's not much happening, there's no music to take the awkwardness off it". Frankly, I think nearly everybody could use a good laugh these days. There was so much going on with gun paly and character beats.

Though just when we have had our fair share of fun, the script insists on piling needless twist upon twist.

Bateman struggled with the film's constant night shoots. For instance they might walk up to a dead body but the person will suddenly get up or if someone is getting beaten to a pulp than no one would help him because it is believed to be a part of the game.

And so, here we go: A sudden break-in occurs, with a couple of thugs duking it out with Brooks, before taping his mouth, and dragging him out of the place. They've constructed a film in which the tension steadily escalates with at least a nod toward the logic of cause and effect, and characters make stupid but clearly motivated decisions.

Coming off the successful first season of Ozark, Bateman's 2018 will be filled mainly with television, as he finishes up the second season of his Netflix drama, as well as the next season of the cult classic Arrested Development. But it's also a lie, and that lie triggers a real abduction and a sometimes violent, sometimes madcap, but generally amusing romp across town where the gamers bluff and blunder their way through various bad dudes, right up to the boss fight at the conclusion.