I'm happy to report that you can safely ignore the recent filmmaker missteps and embrace Game Night as an above average comedy which hits on more notes than it doesn't. That doesn't mean it lands every punch- plenty of standard genre tropes and cliches drive the film- but when it works, it really works.
Brooks sets up a kidnapping mystery game, wherein one member of the group will be taken for the rest of the group to find. When masked gunman show up and really kidnap Brooks, the group assumes it's all a part of the game.
As the group splits off into teams of two looking for Brooks, the lines between game and reality gradually start to come together, and the film shifts into a more action heavy realm, with varying degrees of success. At times the action edges a little too far into the absurd, which I get is normal for the genre, but the film is most effective as a comedy in smaller moments when the characters are allowed to riff off each other.
The rest of the ensemble all get moments to flex their satirical muscles, but in most instances are relegated to fairly standard supporting tropes.
There is Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury), who spend half the film overextending a gag on which celebrity Michelle slept with in the past, which of course makes Kevin jealous. By the time the joke plays itself out, the reveal is hardly satisfying.
There is the dimwitted Ryan (Billy Magnussen) and his "date of the week", Sarah (Sharon Horgan), who have a few moments to shine, but most of their interaction is based around a she's smart/he's not dynamic that wears a bit thin by the end.
Kyle Chandler is solid in everything he does, and it's refreshing to see him step away from drama to have some fun. Brooks is more plot device than he is a particularly engaging character, but it's Kyle freaking Chandler, so...
The real scene stealer of the film is Gary (Jesse Plemons), the recently divorced, police officer neighbor who tries to get an invite to game night. Plemons plays the character with such a straight laced, creepy vibe, and there simply isn't enough of him in the film. I would watch an entire film based solely around the character.
Although the film sputters in parts, there are more than a few laugh out loud moments to keep you interested. Scenes in which Bateman and McAdams quibble over removing a bullet from Bateman's arm, and pretty much any moment with Plemons and his fluffy white dog, Bastien, stand out.
It's a solid date night movie, or will play well on the small screen in six months if you'd rather not spend theater money.
3 out of 5