Game Night

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The Phantom of the Cineplex

I would like to have been able to review the new Jason Bateman crime-comedy-thriller-suspense film “Game Night”, but I unfortunately still suffer from the effects of a “Last Jedi” induced autotrapanation (best use of a salad fork and bedpan, ever) and will not be able to review movies for the duration of my self-medication (I drink).  But, I can describe how I feel about the film as a work with inscrutable vagaries and poorly crafted comparisons such as “this is not like that Michael Douglas movie, at all.”  It may help readers to visualize an accompanying image of me holding my hands out as if to describe the object of my study enclosed in an invisible breadbox as I speak these written words:

Were I to review this feature, I might say that the movie is a light-hearted comedy (and what I will term) ‘couple’s misadventure’ with the underworld of international organized crime.  In truth, I found the comedy element too soft and sweet, like a weak sauce for the sensitive pallet.  There were no laugh-out-loud moments, just a long string of many instances of awkward situational humor.  It was like one of those completely nonexistent four-episode story arcs of Seinfeld.

I might also say that I felt the movie was too long and that nearly all the scenes could have been halved or that the pacing was also strange, with the plot really dragging in the first third but then accelerating into the last act — if I were reviewing it.  It suffices instead to say that an antsy viewer should feel free to take care of any urgency at any time during the screening with no real fear of missing an important story development.  I feel this is a shame, as there was so much potential plot material left untouched, stuff that should have been there to flesh out the narrative which, even if inconsequential to the finale of the film, would have nevertheless been interesting to watch.  However, I am still not about to review the stuff that actually WAS in the movie.

I left the theater feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled, wishing that I had instead remained home and worked on a stupid “The Pitch”.  But as I worked over my recollection of the plot during the drive home, I began to grow frustrated with the increasingly obvious plot holes and inconsistencies that I had not, at first, noticed.  I realize now that these problems are artifacts of a writing process burdened with revision and lack oversight, but I cannot help but feel disappointed in a project for which I had held so much hope.  I still hope that the Blu-Ray featurettes (they still do those, right?) will provide the commentary and fill in the blank spaces to make this show work as it should, but I’m doubtful.

So, while I will not recommend that anyone run out and catch this film in the theater, I will probably stream it at my convenience when available later, and I will probably purchase the physical media, myself.  Personally, I would like to see another party take a wack at this theme.  The film I saw certainly did not look to have a high production value and, aside from the casting choices (and one shooting location), it could have been done on the REAL cheap.  An indie film aesthetic would not have hurt the finished product at all and I believe a small independent production company could have handled the script-crafting much better.

So, hey, CMC, how about we make an indie pic?  Not that I would review it.

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