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Watch This Review

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Movie Review

Max and Annie love games: board games, card games, word games, stackable games. They live for games, hosting a game night with their other game-loving friends at least once a week.

In fact, this cute pair even met at a trivia tournament at a local bar. As captains of opposing, factoid-spouting teams, they couldn’t help but be drawn to each other through an obvious and mutual love for competition. Why, Max even proposed to Annie during a particularly spirited charades match.

Now that they’ve been teamed up for a short while, though, there’s one area where they haven’t been able to win: They don't earn high scores in the fertility department. But, in a way, even that might be due to Max’s hyper-competitive nature.

You see, Max’s brother, Brooks, has always been better than him. When they were kids, Brooks always won at Monopoly and Risk. And as adults, Brooks still seems to get dealt the better hand, win the better rewards, take the better titles in life. So Max’s doctor believes his patient's prevailing sense of inferiority may be the very reason that his sperm are, well, insecure.

It’s all mental, the doctor tells him. And as in any sport or game, your mental attitude is everything.

Of course, wouldn’t you know it, brother Brooks has moved temporarily to town. And not only is he driving around in Max’s childhood dream car, a 1969 Corvette Stingray, but he also wants to usurp Max and Annie’s regular game night with their friends. He’s going to host a competition at his incredibly decked-out rental home. And he’s planning to notch things up with a mystery competition of some type, one that apparently involves his staged kidnapping.

Ugh!

Max can practically feel his sperm count diminishing with every move Brooks makes. Well, there’s only one way to fight this takeover: Max and Annie decide they’ll work together as the best mystery-solvers the world has ever seen. They’ll gather all the right clues, make all the best choices and apply their years of competitive savvy to win this thing and foil ol' Brooks at his own game.

But there’s just one little problem: What if Brooks' “fake” kidnapping isn’t as fake as it seems? What if the thumping punches the bad guys throw aren’t staged? And what if the gun that Brooks drops is filled with … real bullets?

Suffice it to say there may be a number of moves that Max, Annie and their small group of friends aren’t expecting at this surprisingly high-stakes game night.

Positive Elements

For all of their love of gaming, Max and Annie’s relationship is never a game for them. They treasure that connection above all else. We find out Max is even a little afraid that having children will somehow diminish what they share as a loving couple. But eventually, he realizes that having a child will only make their family “team” stronger.

Max and Annie’s friends make it clear that they don’t come to the couple's game nights because they’re so passionate about games. “It’s because we love you,” they say.

And for all their historic competitiveness, when everything is on the line, Max and Brooks both treat each other as only a really loving brother should. Each sibling is willing to do whatever it takes to protect the other. When Brooks is held by baddies, for instance, he repeatedly tells Max to stay away—even though Max and Annie are Brooks' only real hope of survival.

Spiritual Content

None.

Sexual Content

There are several running verbal gags in the mix, including one about oral sex, one about a friend’s multiple sexual conquests and another about a premarital infidelity. We also hear jokes about masturbation and the male anatomy.

A couple of women wear low-cut tops.

Violent Content

Men get pummeled, bashed into furniture, smashed into glass and thumped with heavy objects, such as a refrigerator door and an iron skillet. A half dozen people or so are shot, too, with blood staining clothing or pouring out of a victim's mouth or nose. However, some of these bloody moments are staged as part of acted-out gameplay.

The unstaged incidents, though, tend to be the bloodiest. Max, for instance, is accidentally shot in the forearm; we get a close-up view of the realistic-looking bullet hole oozing blood. Annie cuts the wound open further while trying to remove the bullet. She also taps his exposed bone with a pair of needle-nose pliers. Max bleeds and drips throughout most of the film. He also has a knife jabbed into his already-wounded arm.

In another scene, we see two large, shirtless, muscular men beating each other fiercely in a Fight Club-style battle. A man gets sucked up into the whirring fins of a jet engine, where he's ground to a bloody spray. Someone jumps out of a speeding car and tumbles on the asphalt.

Crude or Profane Language

More than 20 f-words and about 30 s-words are joined by a handful of uses each of “b--ch,” “d--n” and “a--.” God’s and Jesus’ names are misused more than a dozen times total (with God's name being combined with “d--n” four times).

Drug and Alcohol Content

Characters drink wine, champagne, beer and hard liquor in several scenes, including one at a bar. Brooks admits that he was a drug dealer earlier in his life.

Other Negative Elements

Brooks also spills the fact that he always cheated at everything—from the games he’d play as a kid to the way he lied about any victories in his life. Despite that admirable confession, though, he still continues to do deceptive things.

Max and Annie have a strained relationship with a neighbor. They lie repeatedly in order to avoid him, and they deceive him on another occasion. Later, that neighbor perpetrates a rather elaborate deception of his own.

Conclusion

Let’s face it: When you gather the gang for a game night, it’s not so much the game that makes the evening. No, it's the people around the table who matter most. And, of course, the fun they all have together. And from this perspective, Game Night has captured that gather-and-play spirit pretty well.

This flick’s “game” of swirling mistaken misconceptions and surprise twists is filled with plot holes and some outlandishly ridiculous choices. But it has the right cast of high-energy players and some really funny moments to keep viewers bouncing along. Along the way, we even hear a few sweet (if light) messages about the joys of being a loving couple as well as our built-in desire for parenthood.

However—and it’s a 700-pound sumo wrestler of a however—along with its madcap mishaps, Game Night also slaps viewers upside the head with some less-than-savory stuff. That nastiness includes an abundance of rank language, some crude commentary and—though often played as slapstick—a number of bloody visuals.

So you might think of this pic as something like a game night in your living room where the participants suddenly start telling foul, vulgar tales of drunken lost weekends while slashing themselves with butter knives. I can only speak for myself, but that would be a game-over night at my house.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Jason Bateman as Max; Rachel McAdams as Annie; Jesse Plemons as Gary; Kylie Bunbury as Michelle; Billy Magnussen as Ryan; Lamorne Morris as Kevin; Kyle Chandler as Brooks

Director

John Francis Daley ( )Jonathan Goldstein ( )

Distributor

Warner Bros.

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

February 23, 2018

On Video

May 22, 2018

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.