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Film review: 'Game Night' 

Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams star in the hilarious action-comedy "Game Night," as sweetly devoted, charmingly competitive married couple Max and Annie. The pair delight in hosting game nights for their friends (Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, and Kylie Bunbury), inviting the couples over for a light-hearted evening of wine and a few rounds of Monopoly or charades.

It's all in good fun until Max's annoyingly successful brother (Kyle Chandler) comes to visit and proposes that the group raise the stakes, announcing that he's hired a company to stage an elaborate kidnapping mystery that each couple will attempt to solve. But when the group unexpectedly find themselves in the midst of a real-life kidnapping, they're suddenly in real danger and wildly in over their heads.

Writer Mark Perez's tightly-structured script (what a treat it is to finally get a film that bucks the trend of improv-heavy humor that most modern comedies have come to favor) delivers memorable characters, outrageous situations, and manages to find time for everyone in the talented ensemble to get their moment to shine. Making a welcome return to comedy, Rachel McAdams is endlessly charming, but the true standout is Jesse Plemons, who delivers an award-worthy turn as Max and Annie's creepy police officer neighbor, bitter over having been uninvited to the group hangout following his divorce.

Directing duo John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein lend the film a smart visual style, aping the aesthetic of a straightforward crime-thriller, with the situations tweaked for laughs over suspense. After a number of disappointing efforts (the less said about "Vacation" the better), the pair seem to have found their groove with the winning "Game Night," making it one of the funnier and more entertaining mainstream comedies in recent memory.


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