A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Game Night is a good-natured, over-the-top comedy about a murder mystery party that goes very wrong. There's a lot of violence; most of it is played for laughs, but things can get really bloody. Characters use guns, and there's a fight club in which rich people pay poor people to fight each other. One person is hit by a car, someone gets knifed, and a man gets sucked into a jet engine and puréed. Again, all of this is played for laughs, so viewers who can differentiate between comic violence and, say, Scorsese violence can probably handle it. There's also frequent strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "ass," etc.) and some sexual content, including talk about sex acts and fertility treatments and references to a character trying to perform oral sex on himself. Other scenes show kissing/groping, as well as a bit of drinking. Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams co-star.
What's the story?
In GAME NIGHT, Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) are trying to have a baby; their doctor (Camille Chen) thinks stress might be affecting Max. It's no wonder, given the impending arrival of his better-at-everything big brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler). Max and Annie carry on with their traditional game night with friends Kevin and Michelle (Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury) and Ryan and whomever he's dating (Billy Magnussen and, eventually, Sharon Horgan as Sarah), while trying to hide their plans from creepy cop neighbor Gary (Jesse Plemons), who really wants to play. When Brooks ups the ante on the festivities, things go dangerously awry, and these ordinary folks find themselves embroiled in an actual life-or-death criminal plot. But can they overcome Max and Brooks' sibling rivalry, Kevin and Michelle's relationship issues, and Ryan's epic stupidity in time?
Is it any good?
This hilarious gonzo comedy has a sharp script, clever direction, and an excellent cast. In Game Night, writer Mark Perez and directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein have crafted a tightly structured story with little visual tricks that turn out to be significant. That said, the movie really lives and dies by its cast, and this is a top-notch ensemble. Morris -- dependably funny on TV's New Girl -- gets laughs from his bubbling jealousy and dead-on Denzel Washington impersonation, clicking well with Bunbury. Horgan drily delivers as someone who's far too smart for her date; you'll likely wish there was more of her in the film. Magnussen is spectacularly idiotic as Ryan, which is a gift. Open-hearted blockheads are always welcome in comedies such as this, and Magnussen -- who's shown his dramatic chops in the likes of Birth of the Dragon -- hits it out of the park. Plemons' dead-eyed Gary generates big laughs by doing as little as possible. His stony "I see you" face and monotone delivery steal every scene he's in. (At one point, he happily invites the group into his house ... and, with a frozen smile, slowly backs into the darkness.)
And as Max and Annie, Bateman and McAdams have great chemistry. Their timing together, their small reactions to each other; they really read as a couple who love each other, have a lot in common, and accept each other's quirks. Oh, and they're really funny. Bateman, as usual, is an effective straight man with subdued wit. McAdams gets to be a little wackier than usual and has some superb reaction moments. They're an appealing pair, and we're happy to follow them through this gleefully bloody comedy with a fair amount of twists and genuine laughs.
Talk to your kids about ...
How is competitiveness typically portrayed on-screen? Have you ever wondered how your own competitiveness comes across to others? Do you compete with your family members in life?
What's the appeal of over-the-top comedies like this one? Who are they intended to appeal to? How can you tell?
- In theaters: February 23, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: May 22, 2018
- Cast: Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, Kyle Chandler
- Directors: John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language, sexual references and some violence
For kids who love dark comedies
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.