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


Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams in Game Night.
Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams in Game Night.

IS my aging brain really beginning to struggle to differentiate between films now, or is Hollywood really just a big recycling plant?

Immediately after seeing the funny and energetic Game Night, I mistook it for the Steve Carell and Tina Fey vehicle Date Night.

Admittedly the similarities are tenuous at best – a couple inadvertently get caught up in violent shenanigans on a night out – but the results are more familiar: a bright, zippy comedy with laugh out loud moments that is quick to fade from the memory.

Since falling in love at first sight at a quiz night, competitive Annie (Rachel McAdams) and Max (Jason Bateman) have been happily married and hosting weekly game nights with their friends ever since.

When Max’s financially successful and torturous older brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) shows up on the scene, their latest game night is stepped up a notch.

Brooks trades traditional board games for a murder mystery with riddles the participants must solve – except the brutes that burst into the house, and the violent struggle to kidnap him, are real.

Blissfully unaware, for a significant amount of time, that they witnessed a crime, the players go about tracking Brooks down, until the penny drops that there is more to this game than they thought.

With some visually stylish flares, directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein give Mark Perez’s script some pizzazz, meshing action with the laughs and some comical gore.

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

The delightful McAdams shines the brightest in her first full comedy role since 2013’s About Time but she is surrounded by an effervescent cast.

It is hard to imagine this would hold up on a second viewing, but boy that first viewing is a rollicking ride of laughs.

THE ESSENTIALS

Game Night (MA)

Directed by: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein

Starring: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler

Four stars

Review by: Julian Wright

In cinemas now