I haven't laughed this much in a while! Game Night just hits the ground running and never lets up, even if it does slip a little towards the end. The premise could have gone in any direction, to be honest: a group of friends get together for a weekly games night, where the extravagant and rich brother of our main character has arranged for a fully immersive "murder mystery" to unfold. Except, on that very same evening, the brother is actually kidnapped by a gang boss. It's the whole "the audience know what's real, the characters do not, let hijinks ensue" setup which, on paper, could have fallen very flat. Give this to most comedy actors and I think you end up with a formulaic pastiche, but Game Night is happy to play with expectations.
Whether it's the creepy cop next-door neighbour, the surprisingly fast revelation that this isn't just a game, the bizarre mixture of characters, or just the excellent performances (from Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams in particular), it just works. It consistently throws curveballs, gives the characters just a touch more depth than was necessary, and revels in the ridiculousness that it creates. Occasionally it flies just a little too close to the sun as a result. I think the "rich people Fight Club" revelation just worked, but the "neighbour cop fakes everything, then fakes his death to get invited back into the friend group, then actually gets shot" triple twist felt like a stretch. I mean, if nothing else his actual nearly-fatal shooting was not their fault and his manipulation tactics don't exactly scream "good friend" (or "stable enough to be around kids"), so why would they honour the promise?
There are also some slightly off title cards (I think they were trying for a "gameboard" vibe and just fell into the uncanny valley instead), occasionally weird moments, and more than a little required ignoring of physics, but these can all be written off as "who cares, it's fun". They're more than made up for by moments like the back alley gunshot surgery with red-wine-antiseptic, the wrong turn egg smash, the not-Denzel-Washington-at-all celebrity hook up revelation, or the surprisingly brilliant callback about glass tables 😂 Throw in some moments of McAdams being kickass, some excellent one-liners, surprise Gina Linetti, and just generally brilliant dialogue between McAdams and Bateman, and it's a gloriously ridiculous, brilliantly funny ride that is happy to skewer itself, its genre, and the entire film industry along the way, without falling into the trap of just becoming a parody. Excellent work.