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One Movie Punch

Dec 21, 2018

Hi everyone! 

Welcome back for another film streaming on HBO, which was also a surprise hit earlier this year in the theaters and among the critics. We’re trying to review as many Certified Fresh movies as possible from this past year, and will be continuing to do so next season. If you have any favorites form earlier this year, and you can’t find a review for it at using the Certified Fresh tag, then let us know, either at the website, or by reaching out over social media.

And now...

Today’s movie is “Game Night” (2018), the dark comedy directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, and written for the screen by Mark Perez. The film follows a group of couples gathering to participate in an interactive game night. However, when actual criminals become involved, the couples continue participating, oblivious to the danger around them. 

Spoilers ahead.

Not every film has to be a cinematic masterpiece to be a great movie, crafted lovingly from deep source material into a screenplay that resonates with a wide audience, drawn from years of study and practice. Often, producers just need to hear the right concept to greenlight a film for script development, hopefully one day turning into a film we get to appreciate on the big or small screen. The premises are often drawn from popular culture, and among the surburban and hipster classes, there has been an increasing fascination with game nights. My grandparents used to play cards every week with their friends. My family loves to play board games on breaks. Our town even has a game house where you can play any game on their extensive shelves. Add to that the more interactive murder mystery shows and escape rooms, and games are a key part of our culture. So, take that concept, and turn it into an action comedy with an ensemble cast, and you got a script in the making.

It isn’t just about having a great premise, however. “Game Night” takes the premise and expands the story using the characters within the film, filling those roles with an impressive cast of actors. The focus might be more on Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams), not to mention Max’s brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler), but the rest of the cast get plenty of moments to shine. The chemistry among them is well done, as a group and between each character, which you can see play out not just sitting on the couch or in the car, but also in an impressive moving camera long-take in a mansion while they were attempting to steal something. Most of the characters even grow a little bit in the process, revealing a surprising depth for a concept film. 

“Game Night” is full of twists and turns, some foreshadowed using repetitive mentions, some completely out of leftfield, which kept me on my toes the entire time. The dialogue is funny, with a lot of taboo one-liners pushing the edges of action comedies. “Game Night” also keeps a great, light-hearted tone throughout the film, despite the obvious danger surrounding them, and increases the pace as the film progresses to its hilarious conclusion, including a stinger suggesting more adventures to follow. It seems like a no-brainer to move forward with a sequel, assuming reassembling the cast is possible, and assuming they can strike gold twice with the same premise. 

“Game Night” (2018) is a hilarious concept comedy with an exciting story and an impressive cast. The film never takes itself too seriously, even when facing some really incredible danger. Comedy fans, and concept film fans, should definitely check out this film, and then join the club with those waiting for a sequel.

Rotten Tomatoes: 84% (CERTIFIED FRESH)

Metacritic: 66

One Movie Punch: 8.4/10

“Game Night” (2018) is rated R and is currently streaming on HBO.