Date Night review: first view is a rollicking ride of laughs

Most of the time that’s due to either a blatant cheater or someone that has lucked their way to victory against all logic.

“Game Night” is, for the most part, a conventional, and conventionally vulgar, Contemporary Romantic Comedy With Lessons.

A couple find each other and love over a Trivia game contest, get married through a charades bout, and go on to lead their lives from one game night weekend to another.

John Francis Daley: That it straddled two genres. There are a few quiet moments set aside for Max and Annie to debate the merits of starting a family, but mostly this is a dumb comedy filled with characters who don’t exist beyond the boundaries of this dumb story.

“We did it to look like one long shot, so it took a day and a half to shoot”.

The modest but legitimate payoffs in the new action comedy “Game Night” owe everything to the comedy and not much to the action. Because we all crave this competitive outlet. It’s all good fun, but is elevated throughout by occasional, deft cinematic flourishes. And when Gary asks about the snacks, Max insists the store had a three-for-one special on Tostitos Scoops – a claim Gary calmly and awkwardly challenges, wondering aloud how chip maker Frito-Lay could make a profit with such a promotion.

There’s this weird idea that comedy films and “regular” films should be directed differently, and there are plenty of studio comedy directors who lean into that, who all adopt this sort of bright, flat, broad staging and cinematography.

If you’re looking for a thriller involving games that messes with your head, contains sibling rivalry and authentic black humor, check out director David Fincher’s oft-overlooked 1997 gem “The Game”. The script was the basis for everything. Just before the credits roll, there is a go-for-broke move on Brooks’s part that redeems about five percent of the film, but too many pieces on the board and not enough payoff leave this a mixed bag of clichés about the clichés.

Talk about casting Jesse Plemons in the film. “If a director doesn’t have a plan, it gets a little frustrating, but when a director does have a plan, it’s very easy to follow that person and try to make their plans come to fruition”. And it is genius.

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But facts, as they say, are facts, and there is absolutely nothing in this painfully inert comedy to warrant anyone’s willing participation beyond a six-week idyll in Georgia, where it was filmed, and a good-size paycheck to deposit after its completion.

Yet the pair may be disregarding this caveat with their next project, which will be the biggest of their careers to date: They will direct the 2020 superhero film Flashpoint, adapted from the popular DC Comics’ character The Flash, with Ezra Miller in the title role. We encouraged the cast to do so, though.

The old rivalries resurface and intensify when he shows up and usurps game night, inviting all couples (Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury) to his swanky showcase home, introducing his own one-percenter’s version of a parlor game – he’s hired a company that specializes in staging fake crimes (in this case a kidnapping) and asking the guests to solve it. Like Fey, she’s a remarkable writer and we’ve grown accustomed to seeing her play richly drawn, deeply flawed characters that she’s created herself.

Believe it or not, it somewhat pains me to write ill of the film: There are a number of people associated with it for whom I truly wish nothing but the best. Far-fetched though the action may be, it’s held together by the attitude of these trusting suburbanites who just want to win the game.

GAME NIGHT